Home » Air » Planes, Copters, Blimps » Osprey OK’d

Osprey OK’d

by dupont on September 28, 2005

It took twenty years and $19 billion. But at 4pm today, I’m told, the Pentagon’s Defense Acquisition Board will announce its recommendation to go ahead with “full rate production” of the once star-crossed, accident-prone Osprey V-22 tiltrotor craft.
osprey_white.jpgThe fate of the hybrid aircraft has been very much in question, ever since a pair of Ospreys crashed in 2000, killing 23. This decision “gets the program off probation. It can’t be summarily cancelled now,” a source close to the program says.
It’s not exactly clear how many of the hybrid aircraft will eventually be manufactured. The President proposed budget calls for 458 Ospreys to be built into the next decade, starting with 13 next fiscal year. The Marines are ultimately scheduled to get 360 aircraft, Special Operations Command are supposed to have 50, and the Navy is slated to have 48. “Pentagon budget documents show the cost of V-22s at about $100 million each,” the Star-Telegram notes. Osprey makers Bell Helicopter say the figure is more like “$72 million and headed down.“
Those prices and those plans could change in the years to come, of course. But this much is set: A squadron of pilots starts training on the V-22 next week. And an operational squadron of nine Ospreys will be ready to fly out of North Carolina’s Marine Corps Air Station New River by 2007.
THERE’S MORE: Inside Defense has the report from the Pentagon’s testing office, which gave the thumbs-up to the V-22.
AND MORE: The watchdogs at the Project on Government Oversight still aren’t convinced. “It cant autorotate to a safe landing, has no defensive gun, lacks the ability to perform quick evasive combat maneuvers under fire, and cant descend too quickly or it will go into a dangerous roll,” they say.
AND MORE: The Osprey’s final two crashes were due to a mysterious aeronautical phenomenon known as “vortex ring state.” after re-reading Wired’s Osprey story, I can’t say I feel too good about how that’s been dealt with.

Lead test pilot Tom MacDonald of Boeing was assigned the VRS problem. “It was this mystery area,” he says. “So little research had been done on it. People wondered: Would it swallow planes alive?“
MacDonald and the engineers worked out a system. He’d take the plane to 10,000 feet, putting enough air between him and the ground so he’d be able to recover if he got into trouble. Then he’d pull the nacelles back until they were almost vertical, in helicopter conformation, slow his forward airspeed, and try to induce VRS.
“We’d fly all day long,” says Gross, copilot on a few of the test runs. “We’d fall 2,000 or 3,000 feet and recover. We’d fly back up to 10,000 feet, repeat the exercise at 1,000 feet per minute, then 1,500, then 2,000, all the way up to 5,000 feet per minute. Then we’d do it again, this time changing our airspeed.” (A typical rate of descent for a 747 passenger jet on runway approach is 700 to 800 feet per minute.) In the process MacDonald, a former Marine pilot, quadrupled the published knowledge base on VRS.
What he found was that vortex ring state is surprisingly hard to induce. He had to fly slower than 40 knots while keeping the plane in a steady position for at least five seconds, and then descend at a hot 2,200 feet per minute. He also found that in an Osprey, he could recover from the condition relatively easily, provided he had 2,000 feet of altitude to play with. In the end, the team didn’t alter the aircraft. Solution: Install a simple warning system. When a pilot pushes an Osprey toward VRS, a light flashes in the cockpit and a voice cautions, “Sink rate.” And Osprey pilots now know to pay attention to those warnings.

Share |

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

jonah September 28, 2005 at 3:12 pm

yay. i cant wait to bea marine now :D

Reply

Byron Skinner September 28, 2005 at 3:15 pm

Gosh, what a surprise this is.
ALLONS,
Byron Skinner
“Stewart’s Platoon”

Reply

Slawomir September 28, 2005 at 8:26 pm

I am clearly sceptical. If it wil be for quasi civilian purpose that`s okay, for emergency civilian transportation.
But if it is for pure military purpose than it`s a big mistake. How is possible to build for military purpose machine with exposed vital and sophisticated parts – engines ? This is victory of technical thinking over reasonable thinking. Technology wins fundamentals of military tactics. Very bad.
Even “Guderian`s” tanks lost the battle of Kursk, and Russian`s helicopters lost war of Afghanistan.
So it should be very carefull study for real purpose of osprey.
Ofcource it was just my opinion. I am not english speaking person, so forgive me my style.

Reply

Aaron September 29, 2005 at 2:06 am

I keep hoping the Carter copter concept finally proves itself so they can make the large c130 version already.
Much simpler idea…

Reply

Brad September 29, 2005 at 7:59 am

A reply for the negative feedback on the V-22 Osprey. It is an excellent ship for the military especially the Marines since they help develop it and test it for the last 15 years. There is a civilian V-22 its called the Bell 609 and it is currently in flight test and doing very well. And as for you Jonah with your sarcastic remark about the Marines apparently you don’t have a clue about the brotherhood. If it wasn’t for the Marines you would’nt be free to make any comment at all.
SEMPER FI

Reply

The Cenobyte September 29, 2005 at 11:17 am

The V-22 has had it’s share of problems but it’s really a technology that we have needed for a long time. Now we have something to do it, cost to much money to dev it but we have something to fill this bill.

Reply

Richard White September 29, 2005 at 12:03 pm

As a former helicopter pilot in Vietnam (’66-67) and reviewing what the Osprey can and can not do, it is obvious to me that it will not replace the UH-1 of those days or the Blackhawk of today. It is not an aircraft which could survive landing in a contested landing zone (called a “hot” LZ). Luckily, the Army is not scheduled receive any, but think of the poor Marines!!
Whizzer

Reply

Joel September 29, 2005 at 12:12 pm

The Osprey’s ability to deliver troops much farther and faster will change the way we fight.
Nothing is perfect and the Osprey is no exception but it’s worth it’s rocky start.

Reply

Josh September 29, 2005 at 8:36 pm

Well, it seems conceivable to me that if this aircraft works as advertised (the peculiar envelope required to induce VRS excluded), then landing in a hot LZ wouldn’t be an issue: “hit em’ where they ain’t”, right?

Reply

Army Aviator September 30, 2005 at 11:30 am

I am glad the Army exited this program. This aircraft has no satisfactory emergency landing method in either mode of flight. Lose one engine and you become a top. It’s an extremely capable design, but the reason we started putting two engines was for redundency / safety. This is an aircraft where both engines are critical and losing either is a catastrophe. Only a fool would believe we can predict where we can land behind lines without enemy presence and this thing is vulnerable as hell to ground fire. This thing will kill a lot of folks going into hot (or supposedly cold) LZs.

Reply

R J September 30, 2005 at 11:40 pm

Way to go Brad. Semper Fi from a retired Navy Chief. You answered Jonah so I’ll try to answer Richard, Stephen and the “Army Aviator”.
To Richard: You have my respect for being a Heuy pilot in ’66-’67. My hat is off to you for serving your country and for the missions you flew. I know you do not hear it enough but “Thank You”. The V-22 Osprey was not designed to replace the H-1 or the Blackhawk. It was designed to replace the aging H-46, even though it can do the same missions they can do. It is an excellent candidate to fly into a hot LZ to rescue wounded personnel and troops. The fuselage is made out of Kevlar, fiberglass and composite materials that will take a 50 cal bullet thru it without affecting the flight characteristics of the aircraft. The fuel cells have self-sealing bladders inside them that seal after being shot. The prop-rotors are made from a composite material that can be shot with a 50 cal and still maintain its flight integrity. Don’t count the Army out. They were originally scheduled to receive some of the Ospreys configured for their use. After production starts they will probably come back again.
To Stephen: We don’t need the Osprey in New Orleans or Mississippi. As for the rest of your ideas, they have already been thought of and will be put on select models of Ospreys. Remember “Puff the Magic Dragon”, the C-130 gunship that can put a bullet in every square inch of a football field and the “SR-71″ Blackbird Spy Plane that no one knew about for 30 years. These aircraft do exist today.
To the “Army Aviator”: The Army only “temporarily” exited the program again. One minute they are in, the next minute they are out. The will get on the bandwagon after the other braches get them. As for emergency landings the aircraft lands like an airplane if in airplane mode and lands like a helicopter in helo mode. Landing in airplane monde the nacelles are brought up approximately two-thirds, toward upright position to prevent the proprotors from contacting the ground. Most larger aircraft have multiple engines. You are obviously not familiar with the Osprey engine installation. It has two Allison T-406-AD-400 engines. Each engine has 6150 shaft horsepower. The engines are connected thru gearboxes and a main shaft to a combining gearbox in the center of the wing/fuselage area and not directly to the proprotor on each nacelle as most people think. The two proprotors are connected the combining gearbox directly by a main rotor drive shaft, (sort of like a tailrotor on a regular helo). Either engine will drive the combining gearbox on its own resulting in both proprotors operating on one engine alone. This aircraft is designed to fly into a hot LZ. The only people that will be killed are the enemy.
I was not trying to criticize anyone but just to set the record straight about some misconceptions of this aircraft. The info I gave was from material I acquired while stationed at the Bell Helicopter’s Flight Test Center in Arlington, TX 1988-1992 on the Test and Evaluation Team. This aircraft has many more features that you may be interested in. If you would like more info about the V22 contact Bell Helicopter Public Relations in Hurst, TX. They will be glad to send you info.

Reply

V.Colcol (Lambada) October 1, 2005 at 8:33 am

The V-22 Osprey is a testimonial evidence of American know how and ingenuity in aeronautical engineering. Although, a British name L.E. Baynes submitted a design similar to the V-22 Osprey to the British government during WW II as a bomber. But, the British decided they needed an aircraft that can actually fly and fight the Germans and the rest of the Axis power. It is what we needed right now to replace some of our old Helicopters like the CH-46 and CH-47 that are Vietnam era Helos with a hybrid aero vehicle. Now, if I’m not mistaken there is a design proposal by the same company (Bell Texron/Boeing)that built the V-22 Osprey, a bigger version with a quad tilt-rotor engines to replace the CH-53 or probably the C-130. I wonder if anybody ever thought of pursuing the LTV design of a Tandem-Fans of the early 70′s and the Russians probably got one right now on their drawing board or CAD.

Reply

D.Stirwell October 5, 2005 at 2:26 am

Im not going to pretend to know a lot about this subject, but from what I have managed to gather the V-22 concept is a good one. Many seem to be owrried about its survivability- but look at the helicopters you are comparing it to, when slowing down for the LZ/ taking off from it they are no less vulnerable, and if they are hit in the engine they are in no less trouble. Yes, it is new technology (sort of), but people were openly distrustful of the jet engine when Rolls Royce first started serious testing of thier first jets, saying that it was “unreliable” “would never replace propellers” and so on.
R.J is a bloke with his head screwed on right I think, this aircraft has vast potential and we should admit that our biggest worry is that we dont like change and the fact that such a radically different aircraft might just work is something we dont like to think about

Reply

Aaron October 5, 2005 at 7:53 pm

very expensive and very complicated..
do we really need this?
‘fly’s faster and farther’… yeah and with air refeuling a big ass chopper going 175knots is that big a problem. yes military types always want faster.
Now a supersonic cruise missile. that might be worth spending some dollars on.

Reply

hal October 6, 2005 at 4:44 pm

How much is freedom worth to you? I’ll spend you’ll pay taxe’s anyway. The KC-135 has been flying for 50 years, 50 years! Aircraft are very durable cruse missiles are not men on the ground. Thats the only way you win a war.

Reply

faust October 7, 2005 at 12:44 am

why can’t the software engineers on the project just adjust the fly-by-wire code to not allow the pilot to create the conditions necessary for the Vortex Ring State? That’s one of the beautiful capabilities of digital fly-by-wire. There must be a piece of it I don’t get, because I’d expect them to be able to include that with relatively little work. Then they could come out to congress and the public and say, “Look everyone, we fixed the problem! No more crazy crashes or dead Marines!” Maybe someone like RJ can answer this for me.

Reply

KDN October 8, 2005 at 11:32 am

Hey Faust, your right. I guess we should also use people to live fire test flak jackets! Actually, they have found where Vortex Ring State can be induced. Just like power settling in other helicopters, as long as you know the limits of an aircraft, it can be easily avoided even in combat! By the way, there isnt a power settling warning on other helicopters.

Reply

KDN October 10, 2005 at 9:46 am

Hey Joseph….we probably knew each other….I was there too. You are correct about the tipback from the aft retracting LG, but it was from loading cargo on the ramp….some engineer was brilliant for that lol. There are dipsticks or bullseye sight gauges in every gearbox and hyd fluid is check by the use of a monitor. I am a 53 guy also and even when in v-22 I checked dipsticks….not the electronic Ground Refuel Defual Panel for idiot lights. Agree the windows are too small….they have enlarged them somewhat bur when coming into a zone, the upper door gets raised….quickly lol. So who were you an airframes guy??

Reply

Brett Blatchley October 23, 2005 at 7:05 pm

>>>
Lose one engine and you become a top. It’s an extremely capable design, but the reason we started putting two engines was for redundency / safety. This is an aircraft where both engines are critical and losing either is a catastrophe
<<<
Wrong. The V22 can operate on a single engine. Each 6khp turboshaft is coupled to a common gearbox in the midwing. When an engine drops offline, the gearbox automatically diverts power to both proprotors. Likewise, the fuel system reconfigures for this mode. A single engine is powerful enough for the craft to remain at altitude.

Reply

Brett Blatchley October 23, 2005 at 7:19 pm

>>>
As for emergency landings the aircraft lands like an airplane if in airplane mode and lands like a helicopter in helo mode. Landing in airplane monde the nacelles are brought up approximately two-thirds, toward upright position to prevent the proprotors from contacting the ground.
<<<
Re: Airplane Mode: Unfortunately, the V22 has a very poor glide ratio (I’m told by IPs that its about 2/1, like the space shuttle). This is due to its relatively small wing area.
Re: Helecopter Mode: The V22 cannot autorotate to a safe landing in this mode — it’s airplane or nothing.

Reply

egosbro January 23, 2006 at 12:53 pm

So….When we are invading china… Am i gonna die in this thing?

Reply

BMK June 18, 2006 at 2:49 am

People really don’t know what this aircraft is really capable of. The media has given it a really bad name. Like any other concept aircraft this one has given just as many if not more problems then them. Still this aircraft has been developed for a reason. It is to take place of the CH46 and the CH53D. These are vietnam era aircraft and many CH46′s that are in the fleet are the exact airframes that flew missions there. This aircraft was developed because these aircraft are old and we need to modernize. The V22 is a triple redundant aircraft. The engines are super powerful and this aircraft flys higher and faster than any helicopter could. It has the potential to get into the LZ faster and leave much faster than your CH46. When this aircraft hits Iraq, people are going to be surprised. It is going to open the medias minds about tiltrotor aircraft. They are the future. People say why change a good thing. We are Americans we make good things better.
oorah V22 avionics, no one can do it better

Reply

Uncle Jim July 10, 2006 at 12:47 pm

It is basically unsafe. It should never be built. A complete waste of money. If they still want to, the designers and company bigwigs whold be required to ride in it in every test!

Reply

John Kantor August 26, 2006 at 6:47 am

“It is basically unsafe. It should never be built. A complete waste of money. If they still want to, the designers and company bigwigs whold be required to ride in it in every test!”
All said while humming loudly with his fingers in his ears.

Reply

John Kantor August 26, 2006 at 6:53 am

“How is possible to build for military purpose machine with exposed vital and sophisticated parts – engines?”
Like every helicopter – but the entire point of the Osprey is to deliver more troops quicker and from a longer distance in order to reduce the risk.
“Even Guderian`s tanks lost the battle of Kursk, and Russian`s helicopters lost war of Afghanistan.”
!

Reply

matt November 7, 2006 at 9:51 am

re; my last posting had an incorrect e-mail address, stupid keyboard! this is it
chaqman@hotmail.co.uk
or
J_Colton@hotmail.com

Reply

Alberto January 25, 2007 at 5:21 pm

There are good reasons to cancel the V22: The main reason, it’s too costly. Additionally, the concept is OK, but it’s not airworthy or safe enough to haul our troops. It’s a big target for enemy ground forces & missions could be accomplished with smaller/cheaper helicopters.

Reply

james January 30, 2007 at 10:39 am

Waste of money? Well the cost is inflated that is for sure but let’s be honest here. The thing is a peice of aviation genius! Helicopters have been around for over sixty years. This project was only waiting to happen.
As for the lack of weaponry on this thing – I think that will get sorted out. They should strap mini guns and cannons to it. They could even attach a few hellfires to the belly if they wanted to. It is possible place guards for angle of fire so that the proprotors won’t get hit.

Reply

bob November 28, 2007 at 3:32 am

This is an exelent idea, but it should have been redone twenty years ago. The aircraft can’t land in airplane mode. The props are so big that if the try it will cause the blade to strike the ground. Why are we trying to make a tiltrotor aircraft. Short landing. We already have an aircraft that can land in an extremely short distance. If you don’t belive me follow the links to a video of a C130 Hercules landing unassisted, without the assistance of the stopping cable or the catapult, on the flightdeck of an aircraft carrior.
http://www.youtube.com/watchv=BjNyQvhsQE8&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Sa3OGnFGlA
Imagine that we are paying millions for a tiltroter with problems when we have an aircraft that has proven itself for well over fifty years.

Reply

Allen Christian December 22, 2007 at 1:20 am

IT HAS BEEN 20 YEARS AND $40 BILLION AND THIS JUNKER
IS STILL SUCKING MONEY FROM THE TAXPAYERS!!NO MATTER
HOW MANY THEY BUILD THEY WILL ALWAYS NEED HELICOPTER
SUPPORT,ALSO IT WILL NEVER FLY THE PRESIDENT!THEY
SHOULD REQUIRE A GENERAL AND THE SECRETARY OF DEFEN-
SE ON EVERY FLIGHT.I WANT TO SEE IT DO AUTOROTATIONS
1THOUS,2,3OR 5 THOUS.FT WITH CHOPPED THROTTLE,BETTER
HOW ABOUT ENGINE FAILURE ON LIFTOFF OR AT 1000 FT.
ASK COL.HARRY P.DUNN,USAF(RET) ABOUT THE V22 OSPREY,
MAYBE YOU SHOULDN’T ASK HIM,HE WOULD MAKE YOU MAD!!!

Reply

J. McDonald June 25, 2008 at 7:39 am

I always wondered about the survivability of this aircraft when I thought about the number of shafts, gearboxes and other systems required just to make the wings pivot. It seems to me that given it’s record in testing alone, it would only take maybe one small hit in a vital area to render it a smoking hole in the ground.

Reply

Vance P. Frickey June 21, 2009 at 9:35 pm

The fact is that those CH-46 “Phrogs” the V-22 Osprey will replace in USMC aviation are much less fast or long-ranged than the Osprey – and they’re OLD airframes. They can be fitted with side-firing door guns; if USMC aviation feels they need similar armament on the Osprey, it can be retro-fitted.
Aircraft operating manuals are written in blood, unfortunately. To expect the Osprey to be different is unrealistic and perhaps betrays an ignorance of the history of military aircraft.
A prior example of this short-sighted fixation on early accidents in military aircraft is the saga of the F-104 Starfighter. Early crashes here and abroad with F-104 gave the aircraft an undeserved bad name, despite the fact that at least one other fighter in US Air Force service (which was regarded at the time as a superior fighter aircraft) at the time had a higher accident and fatality rate.
Italy operated their F-104S fighters until 2004, which indicates that worries over its safety and reliability were over-hyped; just as the early history of the Osprey is and has been used as a political football

Reply

Vance P. Frickey June 21, 2009 at 9:54 pm

by bob:
“Why are we trying to make a tiltrotor aircraft. Short landing. We already have an aircraft that can land in an extremely short distance. If you don’t belive me follow the links to a video of a C130 Hercules landing unassisted, without the assistance of the stopping cable or the catapult, on the flightdeck of an aircraft carrior (sic).”
I’m aware of the C-130 Hercules’s short-landing capabilities. Note, however, that Hercs were never used after that capability demonstration for carrier onboard delivery – a much smaller airframe does that mission.
And there’s a good reason – the Herc which made that carrier landing was specially beefed up structurally to tolerate the stresses of a carrier landing; also, in the book “Herc: Hero of the Skies,” it is stated that the demo aircraft for the aircraft carrier landing WAS fitted with an arresting hook. Whether it was used or not. I don’t recall.
But the plane landed on that carrier empty save for fuel and crew. Whether it would have been able to do so safely with a significant payload has not been established.
But this landing is such a part of popular culture that in the television series “JAG,” the protagonist Harmon Raab lands his CIA-owned C-130 on a carrier – with a full load of Libyan refugees – in the Mediterranean because damage to his aircraft prevented recovery at a land base.
Face it, guys, the Osprey’s a tilt-rotor craft. It can’t autorotate from any height to a safe landing – that’s right, because it’s not a helicopter – it has twice the speed and six times the endurance of the helicopter it’ll replace.
And I think that any troops who are waiting for extraction will appreciate those qualities.

Reply

Vance P. Frickey June 21, 2009 at 9:55 pm

by bob:
“Why are we trying to make a tiltrotor aircraft. Short landing. We already have an aircraft that can land in an extremely short distance. If you don’t belive me follow the links to a video of a C130 Hercules landing unassisted, without the assistance of the stopping cable or the catapult, on the flightdeck of an aircraft carrior (sic).”
I’m aware of the C-130 Hercules’s short-landing capabilities. Note, however, that Hercs were never used after that capability demonstration for carrier onboard delivery – a much smaller airframe does that mission.
And there’s a good reason – the Herc which made that carrier landing was specially beefed up structurally to tolerate the stresses of a carrier landing; also, in the book “Herc: Hero of the Skies,” it is stated that the demo aircraft for the aircraft carrier landing WAS fitted with an arresting hook. Whether it was used or not. I don’t recall.
But the plane landed on that carrier empty save for fuel and crew. Whether it would have been able to do so safely with a significant payload has not been established.
But this landing is such a part of popular culture that in the television series “JAG,” the protagonist Harmon Raab lands his CIA-owned C-130 on a carrier – with a full load of Libyan refugees – in the Mediterranean because damage to his aircraft prevented recovery at a land base.
Face it, guys, the Osprey’s a tilt-rotor craft. It can’t autorotate from any height to a safe landing – that’s right, because it’s not a helicopter – it has twice the speed and six times the endurance of the helicopter it’ll replace.
And I think that any troops who are waiting for extraction will appreciate those qualities.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: