The “Sunhawks” of VRM-50, the US Navy’s first CMV-22B Osprey Fleet Replacement Squadron, celebrated a landmark achievement as they received their Safe-for-Flight certification on Dec. 16, 2021.
The “Sunhawks” of Fleet Logistics Multi-Mission Squadron (VRM) 50, the US Navy’s first CMV-22B Osprey Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS), celebrated a landmark achievement as they received their Safe-for-Flight certification on Dec. 16, 2021.
Fleet Logistics Multi-Mission Wing Commodore, Capt. Samuel Bryant, presented VRM- 50 with their safe for flight certification during a cake cutting ceremony on board Naval Air Station North Island.
The achievement has been a long time coming for the new squadron, said VRM-50’s Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Eric Ponsart.
“In October 2020, when VRM-50 was established, there were eight of us in a shack on the flight line,” said Ponsart in the article CMV-22B Osprey Fleet Replacement Squadron earns landmark certification by MC2 Chelsea Meiller, CNAF Public Affairs. “Now, we’ve stood up a new training building and are a fully-functional squadron flying brand new aircraft in just 12 months. It’s incredible, and really a testament to all the hard work the men and women at this squadron have put in, along with the support of the VRM community.”
Standing up a brand new squadron brought many challenges, but also gave opportunities for members of VRM-50 to set the groundwork for a successful squadron in every aspect – from the culture of the people to the flight operations.
Naval Aircrewman (Mechanical) 1st Class Tahjiir Moss, the Navy’s first African-American CMV-22B aircrewman, spoke about the pride that setting the squadron up for success brings him.
“We are setting the culture right here, right now,” he said. “We don’t have to hear ‘that’s how we’ve always done it’ because we get to make those choices in terms of how the climate is here. And I think us being able to set that standard high is going to help the Navy as a whole.”
Aviation Structural Mechanic 1st Class Andre Slay talked about all the work that went into the ground-breaking safe-for-flight accomplishment.
“It’s been a tedious process, standing up all these programs at a brand new command,” said Slay. “It was so much hard work, but seeing it come to this point is amazing. It feels really good to see us get here.”
Since their first flight on Sep. 21, 2021, the “Sunhawks” have logged 25 flights and over 81 hours of flight time in order to achieve their safe-for-flight certification.
VRM-50’s executive officer, Cmdr. Emily Stellpflug, the first female Navy CMV-22B executive officer, looked toward the future of the new aircraft and its integral role in the Navy’s mission set.
“When you look at the capabilities of the [Greyhound], this platform brings more capability to that mission by extending the range and being able to use vertical lift instead of relying on a tailhook,” she said. “This allows us to operate in more diverse environments and gives us more options as a community.”
Moss had the same thoughts on the future of the Osprey platform.
“I think this aircraft will become somewhat of a Swiss Army knife for the Navy,” Moss said. “The possibilities are endless, and as an instructor, I am excited to teach my students all the things we are capable of.”
FRS’s are the last stop for new aircrewman and pilots before they report to an operational squadron. During their time at VRM-50, they will complete an advanced, integrated training curriculum and become fully qualified in CMV-22B operations. With the safe-for-flight certification complete, the “Sunhawks” are authorized to start training students.
“Previously, we had been receiving training from the Marine Corps, but soon we will take that over,” said Stellpflug. “I think that is really important to a brand new pilot and aircrewman. Day one, we get to show them the Navy mission and cohesive culture we’ve worked so hard to build here.”
The “Sunhawks” are slated to get their first class of aircrewman and pilots in May of 2022.
The US Navy will use the CMV-22B to replace the C-2A Greyhound COD (carrier onboard delivery) aircraft for transporting personnel, mail, supplies and high-priority cargo from shore bases to aircraft carriers at sea. The CMV-22B carries up to 6,000 pounds of cargo and combines the vertical takeoff, hover and landing (VTOL) qualities of a helicopter with the long-range, fuel efficiency and speed characteristics of a turboprop aircraft. Bell Boeing designed the Navy variant to have the expanded range needed for fleet operations. Two additional 60-gallon tanks and redesigned forward sponson tanks can cover more than 1,150 nautical miles. The mission flexibility of the Osprey will increase operational capabilities and readiness, in addition to ferrying major components of the F-35 engine.
Photo credit: US Navy Photo/ MC2 Chelsea D. Meiller