Hydraulic Problems Vex V-22
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported this weekend that a Marine V-22 Osprey experienced a hydraulic leak that led to an engine fire last Thursday:
“The Marine MV-22, assigned to the squadron that is expected to be the first to be deployed overseas this year, was preparing to take off from the Marine base at New River, N.C., when the crew got warnings of a fire and hydraulic leak in the right-hand engine nacelle.
An official statement released by the Marines public affairs office at New River called the incident "a minor nacelle fire."
But a former Marine V-22 maintenance supervisor, Josh Brannon, said "it's silly to suggest any fire is minor." Had the fire occurred a few minutes later during flight "they could have been having a funeral," said Brannon, who now supervises maintenance of medical-evacuation helicopters in South Carolina.
According to an early report of the incident sent out by the Naval Aviation Maintenance Discrepancy Reporting Program, this is not as minor as a problem as the Marine Corps public affairs office at New River indicates. The report states:
THIS IS A PROBLEM WE HAVE SEEN IN OTHER SQUADRONS. IT IS APPARENT THAT THIS IS A SIGNIFICANT PROBLEM IN THE MV-22 COMMUNITY. THIS IS THE 10TH REPORTED INSIDENT [sic] OF AN EAPS QD [Engine Air Particle Seperator Quick Disconnect] BACKING OFF. [emphasis is POGO's]
In February, the Naval Air Systems Command issued a notice that it is going to award Bell-Boeing, the V-22's contractor, a sole source contract "for the non-recurring development and recurring implementation of design solution in both production and retrofit for the V-22 Engine Air Particle Separator (EAPS)." This contract is intended to fix the problem.
The V-22's hydraulic problems are not new. According to the Defense Department Inspector General in 2002:
“The V-22 was produced with a less-than-optimal hydraulic system because the V-22 Program Manager (PMA-275) did not exercise sufficient oversight of the hydraulic system's design: PMA-275 did not specifically monitor the reliability rates of the hydraulic system's performance.”
The Star-Telegram's Bob Cox also reported:
A more serious nacelle fire occurred on a Marine MV-22 at New River in December. The Marines said that fire, which erupted moments after the plane landed, caused at least $1 million in damage to the aircraft.
That fire was caused when the titanium fitting on the hydraulic line failed and spurted fluid.
The aircraft has suffered other engine nacelle fires caused by leaking hydraulic fluid, including some that the Marines have not publicly acknowledged, according to internal Marine correspondence provided to the Star-Telegram.
POGO will continue monitoring the V-22 program. The GAO noted in a report last week that the "Design stability of Block B--the deployed configuration [of the V-22]--will be better known after its limited operational assessment in late 2007...A bearing defect has been found in some critical assemblies of production aircraft and is being addressed."
Accident in December 2000
Marines: Hydraulics problem, software glitch led to fatal Osprey crash
By Sandra Jontz, Washington bureau
WASHINGTON — A hydraulics problem – one U.S. Marine Corps officials have known about – and a glitch in a computer software program led to the December crash of the troubled V-22 Osprey that killed four North Carolina Marines, according to the completed investigation.
One of the three hydraulic lines supplying the tilt-rotor aircraft was chaffed and ruptured under pressure during a nighttime training exercise at New River, N.C., the home squadron of the Osprey, Maj. Gen. Martin Berndt, commanding general of the Second Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune, N.C., said Thursday.
The hydraulic lines and wire bundles that supply power to the engines of the aircraft showed signs of wear-and-tear, damage consistent with reports of other hydraulic line problems dating back to June 1999, Berndt said.
When the line ruptured, a computer program signaled the pilot to press the Primary Flight Control System reset button.
Pushing the reset button – which the pilot did about eight to 10 times – caused the aircraft to uncontrollably accelerate and decelerate, to "pitch, roll and yaw," and eventually stalled the aircraft mid-flight, he said.
Within 30 seconds of the ruptured line, the Osprey crashed nose down in a area 7 miles from the airfield, Berndt said.
"The aircrew reacted immediately and correctly to the in-flight emergency, as they were trained to do," Berndt said. "We consider them to be without fault in this tragedy."
Though investigators had reports citing previous problems with the hydraulic system, there had never been any indication before the December crash that the computer software would malfunction, Berndt said.
The investigators recommended a review of the computer flight control system and the placement of hydraulic lines and wire bundles, he said.
The Osprey has been grounded since the incident, and the Marine Corps is waiting on independent studies by a panel set up by former Defense Secretary William Cohen and the Pentagon inspector general before deciding whether to fly again, Berndt said.
Part of the Inspector General’s investigation focuses on the falsification of maintenance records, allegedly ordered by the squadron’s commanding officer.
Marine Corps officials insisted in the past that the allegations did not contribute to the crash.
Thursday, Berndt said the New River Osprey that crashed, referred to as "Crossbow 08," was ahead of its maintenance schedule.
The crash also halted full-rate production progress of the $40 billion program of the unique aircraft that flies both like a helicopter and an airplane. The Marine Corps wants to buy 360 aircraft.
Despite the crashes, Commandant James Jones continues to voice support for the aircraft.
Though the nighttime flying currency for co-pilot Lt. Col. Keith Sweaney had technically expired, it did not contribute to the crash, Berndt said. And there is no documentation that Sweaney nor pilot Lt. Col. Mike Murphy had completed their required monthly emergency procedure exams. That too did not contribute to the mishap, he said.
Last year, 23 Marines were killed in Osprey crashes. A crash a year ago this month ago killed 19 airmen in Arizona.
Naval Air Systems Command will conducted a complete review of the computer software program, and both NAVAIR and Bell-Boeing Co., the aircraft’s manufacturer, will review the hydraulic line problem, Berndt said.
Bell-Boeing might have to redesign the hydraulic system to prevent future failures, he said.
V-22 Osprey Aircraft
From Marine Corps News Service
Jan 5 2004
by Staff Sgt. Cindy Fisher
PATUXTENT RIVER NAVAL AIR STATION, Md -- The V-22 Osprey program has suffered serious setbacks throughout its development, but program leaders here are confident these problems have been resolved and they are ready to move forward.
“This is a warfighter’s airplane,” said Col. Daniel Schultz, the Osprey program manager. “We have confidence in this aircraft. We’re ready to bring it back from flight testing and give it back to the fleet.”
With the Landing Craft, Air-Cushioned and the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, the Osprey is an integral part of the Corps’ Expeditionary Maneuver Warfighting concept. This tilt-rotor aircraft takes off like a helicopter, then the two rotors mounted to its wings tilt forward to allow it to fly as a plane, converting the craft from helicopter hover mode to airplane mode in 12 seconds.
This conversion allows the craft to take off and land in smaller places than an airplane, but fly farther and faster than a helicopter.
It is this capability that makes the aircraft an integral part of the expeditionary warfighting concept, said Schultz. “It can go deep and come back.”
The CH-46, which the Osprey is set to replace, has a range of 160 nautical miles, while the Osprey’s range is 2,100 with one refueling. This increased range will get Marines to the battlefield faster and from further away. “The Osprey will provide our Marines with a needed edge in the complex operations they will face while defending Americans and American interests in the 21st century,” said Gen. James L. Jones during his tenure as Commandant of the Marine Corps.
The advantages of the Osprey are obvious. It can fly at a maximum altitude of 26,000 feet, about 15,000 feet higher than a helicopter. This innovative aircraft can also fly nearly twice as fast and three times farther than a helicopter and needs less runway length than a traditional airplane—just under 500 feet.
But, the Osprey, built by The Boeing Company and Bell Helicopter Textron Inc., has experienced serious drawbacks since its first flight March 19, 1989. The program’s mechanical, technical and even political difficulties have delayed its entry into the fleet and at times even threatened to end the program.
The 1986 estimated cost of a single V-22 was about $24 million with a projected 923 to be built. The first Bush administration cancelled the project in April 1989, by which time the cost of a single craft was estimated at $35 million. However, Congress continued to allocate funding for the program in a November 1989 authorization. Throughout Secretary of Defense Richard B. Cheney’s tenure, he and Congress wrestled over the question of the V-22 as he felt the project would cost more than the amount appropriated. Eventually he relented, proposing that $1.5 billion be spent in fiscal years 1992 and 1993 to develop the project. The arrival of the Clinton administration into the White House in 1992 provided new support for the program.
Osprey crashes have resulted in 30 deaths. No one died in a June 11, 1991, Osprey crash, but a crash July 20, 1992, in Virginia killed three Marines and four civilians. The Osprey was grounded for 11 months after this crash. A crash in Arizona April 8, 2000, killed 19 Marines, grounding the aircraft for two months. Another crash in North Carolina Dec. 11 of the same year killed four Marines. After the December crash, the Osprey was grounded until May 29, 2002.
The Virginia crash resulted from a combination of an engine surge, nacelle fire and a drive shaft failure, according to the V-22 Resource Book. The Arizona crash was blamed on a situation called a vortex ring state. A vortex ring state can result when a rotary wing aircraft with a high rate of descent and a low air speed falls into its own rotor turbulence and loses lift. The December crash was caused by a hydraulic system failure coupled with a software glitch.
In June 2003, after a year of extensive testing, program officials held a briefing and flight demonstration to highlight the progress made from mechanical and technical errors revealed by the 2000 crashes. Schultz extolled the extensive testing and provided comprehensive charts of flight-test data.
“We have now solved all the aeromechanical issues. We have solved the logistical issues. … We have solved the engineering issues,” he said.
“The V-22 is much less susceptible to vortex ring state,” Schultz said. “It takes a lot more to get a V-22 into the vortex ring state than any other helicopter.”
The tilt rotor technology even allows for a quicker recovery from this problem by tilting the rotor forward from the helicopter mode and flying out of the vortex ring state, said Lt. Col. Kevin Gross, the chief test pilot from the Marine Corps for the program. To further safeguard against the problem, a device was installed that gives pilots 18 seconds of warning that they might be entering vortex ring state.
Computer software problems have been revised and the hydraulic lines redesigned, resolving the problems that caused one of the crashes.
“We have put into place a standard that’s higher than for any other air asset,” Schultz said. “We are putting the Osprey through hell and back because it might have to go there. We are going to know (its limits) completely before the fleet ever gets it.”
The Osprey program will continue test flights at Patuxent River into 2005. An MV-22 squadron stood up at Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C. and after a year of training will start operational evaluation trials in December 2004. If everything goes as planned, 2006 could see the first combat-ready operational squadron, Schultz said.
“The fleet will like (the V-22), no doubt about it,” said retired Lt.
Col. Steve Grohsmeyer, a Boeing test pilot for the Osprey who also flew CH-53 for the Marine Corps.
The Osprey is ready to take the next step, Schultz said. “Now it’s time to start buying the airplane at an efficient production rate so we can get these airplanes to the fleet a lot sooner.”
The current production rate calls for about 10 aircraft per year. “We are looking at some number of airplanes in ’05 to begin smoothing the production rate, and eventually we want to ramp up to 36 a year,” Schultz said. “When we start buying for all three services we hope to be up to 40-plus a year.”
The Marine Corps is slated to receive a total of 360 MV-22s at a current cost of $68.7 million per aircraft. The program hopes to trim that cost to $58 million per aircraft by fiscal year 2010.
The first article refers to an accident occurred last week, the other articles tries to show some of the problems about this new machine.
It shows that the problems persists, despite assurance of corrections.
We can only conclude that the problems are still there, but there are already too much money invested and pressure of interested parts in order to stop the project and analyse if they are in the right path.
If we look carefully, we start to see that a deeper problem is rising in America. Despite all techonology they have, all "advances" in various fields, we are watching problems almost everywhere.
If this V-22 is a killing machine, the F-22 is a "killing Software", the V-22 have killed more people and the F-22 have records of software problems.
Some of the most advanced projects have serious problems and this can only mean one thing: despite all power, despite all the money, America is decaying. America is loosing knowledge, America is loosing the ability to pass knwoledge to future generations.
And we all will start to see this in a future not far away.
Comments by FromPortugal