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Saturday, Sep. 1, 2012
U.S. cites pilot error in Florida Osprey crash
By AYAKO MIE
The U.S. Air Force has concluded that the crash of a CV-22 Osprey in Florida was caused by human error and that no mechanical defects were to blame, the Defense Ministry announced Friday, increasing the likelihood that the tilt-rotor aircraft's October deployment to Okinawa will take place.
Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto said a Japanese investigative team visiting Washington was thoroughly briefed on the report Thursday.
According to Morimoto, the CV-22 that crashed in the Florida Panhandle was flying in formation with another Osprey during a drill. After taking off from Hurlburt Field at the Eglin Air Force Base reservation, it was caught in turbulence caused by the Osprey in front of it and lost control while attempting to turn.
"Common sense tells you that a pilot should try to avoid such turbulence when flying behind another plane," Morimoto said.
The government's panel will now examine the report to confirm there were no mechanical errors, a requisite step before the U.S. Marine Corps can begin test flights in Japan or deploy the 12 MV-22 Ospreys to the Futenma air base in Okinawa.
If the panel finds no fault in the U.S. report, Morimoto assured that Tokyo and Washington will together take stringent preventative measures to prevent crashes involving human error in Japan.
The Florida crash, which injured five crew members, came less than three months after an MV-22 Osprey crashed in Morocco, killing two U.S. Marines and fuelling fears over their planned deployment to U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.
The ministry is currently in talks with U.S. defense officials to alleviate safety concerns and opposition among local government leaders to Osprey test flights scheduled to commence at U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture in the coming weeks, Morimoto added.
The report comes just days after the Defense Ministry officially concurred with the findings of a report conducted by the U.S. Marine Corps into the Morocco crash, which was blamed on pilot error.
Earlier this week, the governors of Okinawa and Yamaguchi lashed out at the ministry's decision to accept the report's conclusions during a meeting with Morimoto, and reiterated their opposition to test flights from the Iwakuni base and the deployment of Ospreys to Futenma.