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US Ospreys cleared for take-off after fatal Japan crash

A Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM ) 161 lands on the flight deck of the hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) during a training exercise while underway in the Pacific Ocean during Pacific Partnership 2024-1, 10 October 2023. Photo: US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jacob Woitzel

V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft have officially been cleared to return to the skies with the US military after they were grounded following a fatal crash in Japan last year.

V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft have officially been cleared to return to the skies with the US military after they were grounded following a fatal crash in Japan last year.

The joint service multi-role combat aircraft, which can take off and hover like a helicopter before transitioning to turboprop aircraft flight, was cleared for service by US Naval Air Systems Command on 8 March.

Eight personnel were killed when a US Air Force V-22A Osprey suffered a materiel failure to a V-22 component and crashed off the coast of Japan near Yakushima Island on 29 November 2023. The aircraft were then grounded from 6 December while investigations were undertaken into the cause of the crash.

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A US Naval Air Systems Command official said a thorough review has been undertaken to ensure the aircraft is safe and each service branch has performed different processes in returning the aircraft to operation.

“This decision follows a meticulous and data-driven approach prioritising the safety of our aircrews,” the Navy official said.

“Maintenance and procedural changes have been implemented to address the materiel failure that allow for a safe return to flight.”

American defence prime Boeing manufactures the MV-22 assault and presidential support aircraft for US Marine Corps, the CV-22 variant for the US Air Force and the Air Force Special Operations Command, the CMV-22 long-range fuel tank for the US Navy, and a modified MV-22 version for the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force.

The aircraft are capable of high-speed, long-range flight but can also be stored aboard or take vertical flight off an aircraft carrier or assault ship.

US Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh, speaking after the standdown of all CV-22 Osprey variants in 2023, said the decision by military services to ground their platforms was taken out of an abundance of caution.

“The secretary (Secretary of Defense Lloyd J Austin III) fully supports the services and their (decision), out of an abundance of caution, to stand these aircraft down,” she said.

“We will continue to maintain a high level of operational standardisation for all of our pilots and all of our crew.”

“The entire Department of Defense mourns alongside the families and the loved ones of those who lost their lives … in the service of their country,” US Secretary of Defense Austin III said in a statement late last year.

“My heart also goes out to those who were serving alongside these brave men and women in Japan.”

An MV-22B Osprey aircraft also crashed near Melville Island, 60 kilometres off the coast from Darwin during Exercise Predators Run in August 2023. That tilt-rotor aircraft had previously appeared at Gold Coast Pacific Airshow earlier in the year.

Robert Dougherty

Robert Dougherty

Robert is a senior journalist who has previously worked for Seven West Media in Western Australia, as well as Fairfax Media and Australian Community Media in New South Wales. He has produced national headlines, photography and videography of emergency services, business, community, defence and government news across Australia. Robert graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, Majoring in Public Relations and Journalism at Curtin University, attended student exchange program with Fudan University and holds Tier 1 General Advice certification for Kaplan Professional. Reach out via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via LinkedIn.
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