Defense Minister says that he possesses no data on the flight distance capabilities of the Osprey on autorotation in an emergency

July 18, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo

On November 17, Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto commented that he had no accurate data on the flight distance capability of the MV-22 Osprey vertical take-off and landing transport aircraft using autorotation to avoid dangerous situations in an emergency. This comment indicates that the Ministry of Defense has not received such important information on the safety of the Osprey aircraft prior to the MV-22 squadron’s deployment to Okinawa.

Travel distance using the autorotation function is a measure of the aircraft’s ability to avoid a dangerous situation or a crash in a city in an emergency. In the guidebook for the Osprey deployment published by the Ministry of Defense, the ministry emphasized the aircraft’s safety, stating that, “when the Osprey aircraft falls in the emergency landing, the pilot will opt for the fixed-wing aircraft mode to glide or the helicopter mode to perform auto-rotation.” However, this is not a convincing explanation because the Ministry of Defense has not acquired data on the Osprey flight distance capability on autorotation.

The guidebook gives information in question and answer style, and with regard to the safety of the aircraft, there is the question, “If both engines of the Osprey aircraft failed during flight, what does the pilot do to cope with the situation?” The answer is given as, “The pilot will manoeuver the aircraft using either autorotation or gliding.” With regard to this explanation, Arthur Rex Rivolo, a former chief analyst of the Institute for Defense Analyses commented that this is for the helicopters, not for the Osprey aircraft. He said, “The airplane won’t do an autorotation.” The Bell Boeing company that developed the Osprey aircraft explains in the guidebook that the MV-22 will not rely the autorotation function during emergency situations. Some written testimonies and reports rejecting the content of the guidebook issued by the Defense of Ministry have been published in the United States.

The Ministry of Defense explains in its report published in August 2007 that helicopters currently operating from Futenma Air Station are able to fly 750 meters using the autorotation function when flying at an altitude of 330 meters. This report was put together by the Ministry of Defense, based on discussions between the governments of Japan and the United States after a helicopter crashed into the campus of Okinawa International University.

“The Osprey’s gliding distance will depend on whether it is in fixed-wing mode or helicopter mode. Now I have been studying expert opinion on some points, including how far the vertical take-off and landing aircraft can travel using its autorotation function from a certain altitude. I pose questions to the United States,” the Defense Minister said.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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