U.S. military cancels Osprey training at two airports in Hawaii

August 14, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo

On August 13, the U.S. military canceled the training of the MV-22 Osprey vertical take-off and landing transport aircraft at two airports in Hawaii because of concerns that the downwash generated by the aircraft could impact upon archaeological resources.

This is written in the documents announcing the decision made by the U.S. military forces following the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) regarding deployment of the Osprey in Hawaii. The documents revealed that the U.S. military forces considered local residents’ concerns over noise and safety issues, and concerns over destruction of habitats of endangered species. It seems to be the first time that the military forces canceled the Osprey training due to influence of the deployment of the aircraft on natural environment.

The military forces canceled the training at Kalaupapa Airport located on the island of Molokai and Upolu Airport in Hawaii County.
In the documents, the U.S. Marines Corps stated, “The new MV-22 aircraft will introduce greater prop-rotor downwash than that of existing aircraft. Based on prop-rotor studies, the potential area of effect is defined as an area encompassed by a circle with a radius of 350 feet (107 meters) measured from the aircraft’s landing point.” The documents explained, “Due to concerns about potential impacts of MV-22 rotor downwash on archaeological resources located adjacent to Kalaupapa Airport, the Marine Corps modified the proposed action in the Final EIS to remove MV-22 use of Kalaupapa Airport for training.”

Also, in the agreement reached between the U.S. Marines Corps and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation in Hawaii there is mention that the U.S. military will limit the use of Upolu Airport to emergency landings because the airport is located just 1.6 kilometers west of the birthplace of King Kamehameha I, who established the Kingdom of Hawaii.

The U.S. military plan to deploy 24 Osprey to the Kaneohe Bay base in Hawaii by 2018. In the preparatory document of the EIS, the military proposed that in 2018 the aircraft will be used at Kalaupapa Airport 684 times, and at Upolu Airport 228 times. With regard to the deployment of the Osprey in the United States, the military postponed training exercises because many local residents were concerned about the safety of the low-altitude flight training of the Air Force CV-22 in New Mexico.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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