The USMC has determined that the crash of a MV-22B Osprey, call sign “Ghost 31”, in Norway on Mar. 18, 2022 was due to pilot error.
According to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing statement released on Aug. 15 ‘The command investigation into the MV-22B Osprey mishap during Exercise Cold Response 2022 near Bodø, Norway, on March 18, 2022, has been completed by the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW) investigating officer and endorsed by the then-commanding general of 2nd MAW.
‘On March 18, 2022, a U.S. Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey, call sign “Ghost 31” and assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 261, 2nd MAW, crashed during a training flight in support of Exercise Cold Response 2022. Despite an extensive search-and-rescue effort led by the Norwegians, four U.S. Marines died in the crash and were recovered from the crash site and returned to the United States. We offer our sincere gratitude to the Norwegian Joint Rescue Coordination Center, search-and-rescue operations assets, Norwegian civil authorities, and all those involved in the search, rescue, and recovery efforts.
‘The four fallen Marines are Capt. Matthew J. Tomkiewicz, the aircraft commander; Capt. Ross A. Reynolds, the co-pilot; Gunnery Sgt. James W. Speedy, the aerial observer; and Cpl. Jacob M. Moore, the crew chief. Their loss continues to be felt across the Marine Corps, and our condolences remain with the family and friends of the fallen.
‘On March 18, 2022, the aircraft and aircrew departed from Bodø, Norway, on a training flight in support of Exercise Cold Response 2022. They returned to base for fuel without incident after conducting local-area familiarization flights and confined-area landings. After refueling, the aircrew departed on an approved flight plan in clear conditions to the south of Bodø. However, the aircrew and aircraft deviated from the preplanned and authorized flight and entered the Gråtådalen Valley at approximately 4:22 p.m. local. It is estimated the aircraft impacted the eastern side of the valley at approximately 4:23 p.m. local.’
Alert 5 reported that the mishap aircraft was flown beyond its angle-of-bank limit and hit the ground. Investigators also determined that the aircrew had deviated from the preplanned and authorized flight and entered the Gråtådalen Valley at low-level. Since the mission that day calls for the crew to flew south of Bodø. There was no requirement for the flight to navigate through the Gråtådalen Valley at low altitudes.
According to the 2nd MAW statement ‘The investigation evidentially concluded that the mishap was a result of a series of maneuvers conducted at a low altitude through the Gråtådalen Valley that exceeded the maximum angle-of-bank for an MV22B Osprey, which caused a loss of altitude, airspeed, and turning room from which the aircrew and aircraft were unable to recover.’
The aircraft impacted the valley’s eastern side at approximately 4:23 p.m. local time. Data from the flight indicated a left turn at 68 degrees angle-of-bank followed by an overcorrected maneuver with a right turn in excess of 80 degrees. This cost the aircraft to lose altitude and airspeed. It was not known who was at the controls before the crash.
‘Specifically, analysis of the recovered aircraft data shows the aircraft, while maneuvering within the valley, made a left turn at 68 degrees angle-of-bank. The steepness of the turn resulted in the loss of both airspeed and altitude, followed by an overcorrected maneuver with a right turn in excess of 80 degrees from which the aircraft could not recover. The Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization Manual states the limit for angle-of-bank in an MV-22B Osprey is 60 degrees. It is not known which pilot had control of the aircraft at the time.
‘The investigation concludes that weather conditions were met and appropriate for the authorized flight, the aircrew were qualified for the assigned mission, the aircraft was properly maintained and airworthy, risk-mitigation training and predeployment training requirements were met and often exceeded, and the mission was as necessary as any other that is assigned on a daily flight schedule across the Marine Corps.
‘The aircraft-salvage and environmental-cleanup efforts are complete.’
As reported by Marine Corps Times, a fatal June Osprey crash, which killed five Marines, coupled with the March fatal crash led to a Marine Corps all-aviation unit safety stand down between June 21 and July 1.
The June crash remains under investigation.
Between January and June, the Marine Corps had experienced six class-A mishaps, resulting in nine fatalities and the destruction of four aircraft, officials said.
Photo credit: Norwegian Military and U.S. Marine Corps