It'd be really cool if the Marines could get a hold of a reliable, tilt-rotor aircraft that combined an airplane's speed with a helicopter's abilities to takeoff without a runway. Too bad the crash-prone V-22 Osprey ain't it. For what seems like the zillionth time, the tilt-rotor craft has broken down, the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram is reporting.
Leaking hydraulic fluid triggered a fire in the engine compartment of one of the Marine Corps' newest V-22 Ospreys last week, the latest in a string of technical problems for the Bell Helicopter-built aircraft.Navy and company spokesmen downplayed the seriousness of the fire, which they said was quickly extinguished and did little damage."There was never any danger to personnel or the aircraft," said Ward Carroll, spokesman for the Naval Air Systems V-22 Program Office...Carroll said engineers were still investigating the cause of the hydraulic leak, which occurred in a low-pressure hydraulic line, not the more critical high-pressure lines.Two V-22 crashes have been attributed in part to failed or leaking high-pressure hydraulic lines. In 1992, a leak led to an engine compartment fire that destroyed the drivetrain of a V-22 and caused a crash at Quantico, Va., that killed seven people.A ruptured hydraulic line triggered a chain of events that led to another crash that killed four Marines in December 2000...Before the Marines could begin the operational evaluation testing, the Navy and Pentagon were required to certify to Congress that a number of major issues had been adequately resolved, including the reliability of the V-22 hydraulic system.Former Marine colonel and test pilot Bill Lawrence of Aledo, who has been critical of the V-22, said the fire was not a good sign for the safety and reliability of the Osprey."There are a ton of airplanes out there flying around with hydraulic fluid leaking and they don't catch on fire," Lawrence said.