Ospreys air­craft OKed de­spite crash

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

TOKYO — Ja­pan said on Fri­day it would al­low Os­prey tilt-ro­tor air­craft to con­tinue to op­er­ate in the coun­try, ac­cept­ing US as­sur­ances that the flights are safe fol­low­ing a fa­tal crash off Aus­tralia.

The US Ma­rine Corps MV-22 Os­prey air­craft, which was based at an air­base in Ja­pan, crashed Aug 5 while on ex­er­cises off the Aus­tralian coast, leav­ing three ser­vice mem­bers miss­ing and pre­sumed dead.

It­sunori On­odera, Ja­pan’s new de­fense min­is­ter, had asked the US to tem­po­rar­ily stop fly­ing the air­craft in his coun­try fol­low­ing the ac­ci­dent, the lat­est deadly in­ci­dent in­volv­ing Ospreys.

But on Fri­day, Ja­pan’s De­fence Min­istry is­sued a state­ment say­ing that the US mil­i­tary “is tak­ing rea­son­able mea­sures” and “the US force’s ex­pla­na­tion that it can con­duct safe flights of MV-22 Ospreys is un­der­stand­able”.

“It is ap­pro­pri­ate (for Ja­pan) to de­mand flights with max­i­mum con­sid­er­a­tion to safety,” it said.

The com­ment came a day af­ter the US Ma­rine Corps said in a state­ment it con­cluded “the Os­prey is safe to fly” and “re­sumed op­er­a­tions” af­ter ini­tial in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Satur­day’s in­ci­dent.

Ac­cord­ing to a US of­fi­cial, the Os­prey crashed af­ter clip­ping the back of the USS Green Bay while try­ing to land on the am­phibi­ous trans­port ship.

The MV-22 — a hy­brid he­li­copter-tur­bo­prop — has two en­gines po­si­tioned on fixed wingtips that al­low it to land and take off ver­ti­cally. It can travel much faster than a he­li­copter.

The air­craft has been in­volved in a se­ries of fa­tal in­ci­dents, mostly in the United States. In April 2000, 19 Marines were killed in an MV-22 crash in Ari­zona.

Marines said the prob­lems that plagued the air­craft while it was be­ing de­vel­oped have been fixed, and it is now ac­tu­ally one of the safest in the air fleet.

Ok­i­nawa res­i­dents have protested at the de­ploy­ment of Ospreys to Futenma, which sits in the mid­dle of a city.

In De­cem­ber a “con­trolled land­ing” of an Os­prey just off the Ok­i­nawan coast dur­ing a train­ing flight sparked lo­cal anger. The air­craft broke into pieces but no one was killed.

A US Ma­rine Os­prey air­craft

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