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US Naval Air Systems Command confirms today that a fifth MV-22 -- and the first US-based aircraft – is afflicted with the same “loose bolts” problem that caused the fleet to be grounded earlier this week
This discovery means all “high-time” V-22 airframes may have a safety-critical design problem, and is not isolated to the four Iraq-based MV-22s previously found with the problem.
The bolts are used to attach a swashplate that controls the pitch of the propeller blade. If the swashplate comes loose during flight, the aircraft could crash.
“You would essentially lose control of the aircraft,” Col Matt Mulhern, V-22 programme manager, told FlightGlobal.com.
A precautionary order that temporarily grounded all 84 BellBoeing V-22 Ospreys currently in service marred a celebration for the US Air Force CV-22 programme’s latest milestone event.
The CV-22 fleet passed the initial operational capability (IOC) milestone on 19 March. The IOC event officially ushers the new aircraft type into combat service, although the USAF has already deployed CV-22s.
Two days later, however, a US Marine Corps MV-22 crew in Iraq heard unusual noises after landing, and discovered four bolts had shaken loose inside one of the engine nacelles, said a spokesman for the US Naval Air Systems Command.
The missing bolts are supposed to hold in place a fixed swashplate that transmits flight control inputs governing the V-22’s blade pitch during helicopter mode, according to NAVAIR.