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Developing: Hydraulic Failure Caused Nov. Osprey Fire

by Ward Carroll on September 29, 2008

osprey-fire-blog.jpg

I’ve gotten my hands on an investigation report into the fire that nearly destroyed an MV-22 back in November during an NVG training flight near New River, N.C.

[NOTE: Picture is a scan from one provided in the investigation report]

Turns out, the fire sparked after the #3 hydraulic system ruptured due to pressure spikes from the engine air particle separator which filters inlet air before it is ingested by the engine. The hydraulic fluid spilled all over the IR suppression system, igniting the left nacelle into a ball of flame. The pilots and crew landed safely but the nacelle was a melted, twisted hulk. It caused $16 million in damages.

The crazy part is that this is a known problem. Our friend Bob Cox of the Ft. Worth Star Telegram has reported this same rupture before and his sources in the maintenance community indicate to him the problem is much worse than the Corps admits. In fact, the report shows a Airframe Change notice (#88) that calls for the installation of thicker hydraulic tubing in the EAPS system because of known pressure spikes that can cause a “catastrophic failure.” That notice came out in August, three months before the November incident.

The Corps (an Navy) told us not to worry, this was a problem on the Block A aircraft and the retrofits would go on those. Problem is, the November fire happened on a Block B Osprey [CORRECTION: Corps PA says the mishap aircraft was indeed a Block A bird].

I’m working more sources on this and giving the Corps a chance to respond, so you won’t see the final version of the story for another 36 hours. But I’ll scan some of the docs and try to post them when I push this one live so you can determine for yourselves what’s going on…

– Christian

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Springboard September 30, 2008 at 1:56 am

It was an Block B, eh? Covered the crash, missed the B…Thought it was one of the training birds.
Nice–but unfortunate–catch.

Reply

Jimbo Jones September 30, 2008 at 4:00 am

Awaits ‘Osprey bashers’ to come and preach to us how the machine is a disaster/unworkable etc etc.
I love Ospreys and think when the problems are ironed out it will mark a revolution in rotery transport – if it hasn’t already that is.

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Christian September 30, 2008 at 5:13 am

Springboard,
The report says it was an MV-22B which I assume means Block B…is that right?

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C. Foskey September 30, 2008 at 8:42 am

This is big news if the incident involved a block B model. Like Springboard, I thought this was another block-A incident since it was stateside in training.
What else I am still not sure about is whether or not a retrofitted block-A EAPS is identical to the block-B

Reply

Scott H. September 30, 2008 at 4:16 pm

Christian,
The B in the Mission/Type/Series MV-22B (or Mission/Design/Series, MDS for us USAF-types) does NOT refer to the Block B designation. All currently flying MV-22s are MV-22Bs, even though there are both Block A and Block B variants within that designation.
The Marines decided to use letters to identify their blocks (significant configuration changes, but not significant enough to change the type designator). They used letters (instead of the more “traditional” numbers) to differentiate the basic V-22 block changes from the already underway block-cycle improvement program for the USAF/SOCOM CV-22A variant (Block 0, Block 10, Block 20, etc.)
The differentiation helps to some degree, but it still gets confusing when one has to explain that a CV-22A Block 10 aircraft includes the MV-22B Block B improvements, as well as the SOCOM/USAF block content.
Hope this helps, if not, wake up Ward and make him draw you a picture. He was there when we dreamed this up.

Reply

MattS October 1, 2008 at 3:18 pm

“The report says it was an MV-22B which I assume means Block B…is that right?”
you assume…
meanwhile more mud sticks. justified or not.

Reply

angel October 23, 2008 at 1:22 am

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