The federal government is suing the city of San Diego over an incident in which a skydiving plane rolled and slowly crashed into a parked, unoccupied US Marine Corps (USMC) MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft at Brown Field in Otay Mesa in 2020.
As reported by Los Angeles Times, the lawsuit, filed last week in San Diego federal court seeks more than $5.7 million in damages, claiming the defendants owe the federal government “for the value of the repair and transportation costs.”
According to the suit, on the first night of a three-day training the city of San Diego and Brown Field Municipal Airport mismanaged the facility by failing to maintain adequate parking for the Osprey. The lawsuit alleges that the USMC flight crew was forced to park in an unsafe location where the MV-22 was later struck by the skydiving plane, the lawsuit alleges.
Washington skydiving company Kapowsin Air Sports, the owner of the plane, and Tac Air Ops, a limited liability company that does business as Skydive San Diego, the operator, are named as defendants by the lawsuit.
The incident took place on May 30, 2020 around 9:40 a.m. A USMC crew flew the Osprey from Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar to Brown Field as part of a routine training the night before.
The lawsuit says that the crew “discovered that the airport failed to maintain adequate parking” at Brown Field after they landed and taxied toward what was supposed to be its designated parking location. The crew located an alternative area to park the plane.
According to the lawsuit, unbeknownst to the crew, the alternative parking spot they chose presented hazards that were not present at the other spot, including “increased congestion associated with neighboring aircraft traffic and parking.”
According to the lawsuit and a city of San Diego “unusual incident report” then published by USNI News, the USMC crew left the Osprey near two other planes, including a twin-engine skydiving plane, a de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter, that had just spent two weeks under maintenance.
The lawsuit says that when the pilot, who is also a named defendant, started the engines on the twin-engine skydiving plane, it began rolling toward the Osprey. The pilot unsuccessfully tried to stop the plane.
A fire sparked after the Twin Otter crashed into the Osprey was extinguished with the help of nearby witnesses. USNI News published photos of the crash on Twitter, showing the Osprey sustained significant damage to its left wing, engine and propeller blade.
The suit says that the skydiving plane “was not in good working condition at the time of the incident” and that the pilot told the Federal Aviation Administration that the Twin Otter’s brakes and steering were unresponsive when it crashed into the Osprey.
The MV-22B Osprey is a tiltrotor V/STOL aircraft designed as the medium-lift replacement for the CH-46E Sea Knight assault support helicopter. The Osprey can operate as a helicopter or a turboprop aircraft and offers twice the speed, six times the range, and three times the payload of the CH-46E.
Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for the MV-22B was declared in June 2007. The Osprey had three successful combat deployments in Iraq from October 2007 to April 2009 with VMM-263, VMM-162 and VMM-266 respectively. VMM-263 embarked on the first MV-22 shipboard deployment with the Bataan Ready Group in May 2009 as part of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).
Photo credit: USNI News Twitter Profile
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