The main problems with the deicer and hydraulic systems afflicting the Marines' vaunted V-22 Ospreys have been fixed, according to one of the Marines' most experienced V-22 pilots.
I spent all day Monday at MCAS Cherry Point, Camp Lejeuene and MCAS New River. During my visit to New River, Lt. Col. A. J. Bianca, the CO of VMM-261, explained the fixes to the deicer systems and the hydraulic systems.
Bianca said he had flown an Osprey Monday morning, when the ground temperature was just above freezing and his plane had no problems. The squadron commander, who has flown Ospreys since 1999, said software changes had been made to make the anti-ice and de-ice systems more effective. Of course, since the Ospreys have flown operations mostly in Iraq, they had rarely experienced operational conditions that challenged the deicing systems.
I pressed him repeatedly about the deicing problems and he indicated they just weren't issues any more.
I asked him to explain the improvements to the hydraulic systems made after a fire largely destroyed an Block A Osprey last year.
He pointed up to the nacelle of a static display MV-22 that had recently arrived from the factory. About halfway up, you'll see two little venting holes.
Those holes are part of an improved system to manage and, if necessary, isolate any leaking hydraulic fluid so it doesn't pass over any hot parts of the nacelle and catch fire.
"The Engine Air Particle Separator (EAPS) has new pump materials and stronger hydraulic lines. The modification also changes the aircraft's nacelles so they vent any fluid overboard in case a failure should occur. By venting it overboard, we keep the fluid away from the hot section of the engine, preventing fire," Bianca said in an email clarifying what he told me.