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Saturday, January 1, 2005

Rotorcraft Report Loss of Blade Piece Forces V-22 Emergency Landing

MILITARY

Loss of Blade Piece Forces V-22 Emergency Landing

A U.S. Marine Corps V-22 performing icing tests in Nova Scotia was forced to make an emergency landing at the Canadian Forces Shearwater air base Nov. 19 after losing a 20-in.-long, 4-in.-wide piece from one of its 36-ft.-long rotor blades.

About 13 mi. out of Shearwater and over water, the pilots noticed unusual vibrations and noises that sounded like ice shedding off the rotors. Cockpit displays indicated that a heater had failed on the aircraft's left side. The pilots declared an emergency, slowed the aircraft to minimize vibrations and prepared to land.

The V-22 has an electrical deicing system that warms the leading edges of its rotors and wings to prevent ice build-up and shed any that has accumulated. One suspect in the loss of the section of rotor blade is ice that broke off and collided with the blade. A key question is where the ice chunk came from. An investigation is under way, and investigators may consider placing more cameras on the Osprey to get better views of where ice forms and sheds on the aircraft.

The damaged Osprey went into maintenance after the emergency landing. It was scheduled to return to flight Dec. 6.

In other V-22 activities:

Two V-22s in November completed the fourth and final period of testing the V-22's suitability to operate from ships at sea during visits to the USS Wasp (LHD-1) amphibious assault ship. The tests examined interaction between a V-22 parked on the flight deck and another V-22 hovering in front of it and sought to expand the flight envelope for all port side landing spots aboard an amphibious assault ship. The testing also pursued development of a night short-takeoff envelope and evaluation of the latest flight control software version.

A group of mechanics from VMX-22, the V-22 operational test and evaluation squadron based at MCAS New River, N.C. conducted maintenance demonstration testing. Tests included removing both engines, jacking the aircraft and cycling the landing gear, and removing prop-rotor hubs and blade assemblies. The VMX-22 team's findings will support the squadron's upcoming operational evaluation.

Members of 2nd Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Co. trained in and demonstration helicopter rope-suspension operations at Camp Lejeunce, N.C. A dozen members of the slid down ropes as their V-22 hovered at altitudes of 30, 45 and 60 ft. The Marines used rappelling, fast-roping and special personnel insertion and extraction rigging techniques during the evolutions.

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