August 2005 
Volume 04, Issue 4 
Industry Wrap

A big debut

A big debut

Reporters get their first-ever chance to fly aboard the V-22

One take on flying in the V-22

Richard Whittle of the Dallas Morning News was among the first reporters to ride in the V-22 Osprey. Here are excerpts from his account of his flight.

“We had been on the runway only seconds when the Osprey started rolling faster, lifted slowly off the ground, then rocketed upward as [the pilot, U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Christopher Seymour] tilted the rotors forward. It felt like flooring it in a Corvette.

“Quickly we were up to 500 feet. ... We flew north a few minutes, then Lt. Col. Seymour put the Osprey into a 2G turn that pressed me back against the bulkhead, circling us around to head back south.

“Out the rear ramp, we could see coastal marshlands as we headed back inland. Then the Osprey began to decelerate almost as quickly as it had gained speed and settled toward the ground.

“Lt. Col. Seymour set the Osprey down quickly but gently in the grass and let the wheels touch the ground for a few seconds. Then we lifted off again, rotors roaring, and hovered over the landing zone.“Now the Osprey began turning slowly in a circle as it hovered at 50 or 60 feet. Still hovering, Lt. Col. Seymour put the aircraft into a slow drift to the right, then to the left.“Then without warning, the fuselage began to tilt upward, the engines whined and we shot into a steep climb, gaining speed and enough altitude to make my ears pop.”

A media event last month hosted by U.S. Marine Corps squadron VMX-22 shared highlights of the recently completed V-22 Operational Test and Evaluation (OPEVAL), provided a look at program status and upcoming milestones—and gave select reporters the unprecedented opportunity to be the first nongovernment personnel to fly aboard the aircraft since its return to flight.

During OPEVAL, the aircraft was put into “real world” scenarios aimed at evaluating the V-22’s operational effectiveness and suitability. Successful completion of this critical phase of testing is required to support a full-rate production decision by the U.S. Defense Department. The decision is scheduled for late September.

The media event, at Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., and the reporter flights were intended to show that the V-22 is not only capable but safe. Two V-22 crashes in 2000 nearly led the Pentagon to cancel development of the aircraft. Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine called the reporter flights “a clear show of confidence in the program.”

The Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey is capable of taking off and landing like a helicopter. Once airborne, it can rotate its engine nacelles forward, converting to a turboprop airplane that can fly at high speeds and high altitudes. The Marines plan to purchase 360 Ospreys, and the Air Force is looking at buying 50 for special operations and other missions. The Navy has a long-range plan to take 48, the Dallas Morning News said.

In flight onboard the V-22, a CNN correspondent noted in a taped report: “One thing the V-22 Osprey has got going for it is speed. I’ve been in helicopters before; this is much faster. On a good day, a helicopter might go 100 miles an hour. We’re going upwards of 300 miles an hour.”

An Aviation Week & Space Technology article said the Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation also must endorse the aircraft before it can be approved for full-rate production.

A report now being written is expected to be issued late this month, Aviation Week said.

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