Osprey pilots cleared in April 2000 crash

| March 3, 2016

Bobo sends us a link to the Stars & Stripes which reports that the Pentagon has cleared the Marine pilots, Major Brooks Gruber and Lieutenant Colonel John Brow, of culpability in an April 2000 VS-22 Osprey crash which happened in Marana, Arizona and killed 19 Marines including the pilots.

“Human factors undoubtedly contributed to the Marana accident,” [Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work] said. “However, it is clear that there were deficiencies in the V-22’s development and engineering and safety programs that were corrected only after the crash – and these deficiencies likely contributed to the accident and its fatal outcome. I therefore conclude it is impossible to point to a single ‘fatal factor’ that caused this crash.”

“I hope this letter will provide the widows of Lieutenant Colonel Brow and Major Gruber some solace after all of these years in which the blame for the Marana accident was incorrectly interpreted or understood to be primarily attributed to their husbands.”

The change does not affect the official documents or the current Osprey program. The lawsuits are over, so there are no legal ramifications or further monetary gain. (Manufacturers Bell Boeing settled out of court with the families; the details are sealed.)

Yeah, if that’s not proof that the lawyers are in charge at the Pentagon, nothing does. Instead of discussing actual safety problems with an aircraft, we’re more concerned with the liability problems a crash causes. Those osprey pilots can take solace in the fact that the Pentagon won’t tell them what causes malfunctions until the court documents are filed and the case closes.

From a CNN article a year after the crash;

The April 8, 2000, accident was blamed on pilot error — investigators found the pilot landed too quickly and at too steep an angle, causing the tilt-rotor plane to lose lift under its right rotor.

Category: Big Pentagon

Comments (11)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Luddte4Change says:

    Back in the 40/50/60s we crashed a lot of aircraft during testing, I wonder if the services faulted the pilots of those aircraft or just racked it up to the cost of doing business?

  2. RM3 (SS) says:

    Wow now that’s lighting speed for a decision. Why so long? Simple, lawyers involved.

  3. Ex-PH2 says:

    There is a huge difference between pilot error and mechanical malfunction.

    While many crashes are indeed caused by pilot error, a large number are also mechanical failure.

    And as we’ve seen with Capt. Sullenberger and several fighter jet pilots, a good pilot can land a malfunctioning plane on a dead stick and no one gets hurt or killed.


    • Claw says:

      As well as Acts of God.

      Example: The wind shear that brought down UAL Flight 585 25 years ago today in Colorado Springs.

      At that time the wife and I lived less than a mile from the crash site.

      RIP to the 25 souls on board that day.

      • CC Senor says:

        Those microbursts can be a bitch.

      • Bill Cook says:

        Unfortunately, the NTSB never was able to resolve the crash’s cause. The 737 was involved with several unexplained rudder hard over incidents and at least one other crash (US Air 427 in Pittsburg). The short term fix was crew training on how to identify a hard over, what to do, and a small cockpit mod to assist in recovery in the event of such a hard over. Boeing ultimately redesigned the 737 rudder assembly and over 5 years did that mod to all flying 737’s.
        It wasn’t wind shear.

        • Claw says:

          Thanks Bill, it’s good to finally find out that 10 years after the crash the NTSB determined that the cause was a jam of the main rudder power control unit servo valve and not wind shear.

          I guess I didn’t have to be standing on the deck of my house at 0940 that Sunday morning having a cup of coffee and watching that bird pitch over and auger in during one of the most violent windstorms I had experienced in my 15 years of living in Colorado.

          It’s all so clear now 25 years later.

          As a side note, “Can’t we all just get along?” was also a big part of the news for that day.

  4. GDContractor says:

    Wasn’t this accident caused by vortex ring state?

    • Luddite4change says:

      Yes. IIRC what would cause vortex ring state in the V-22 wasn’t well understood at the time of the accident.

  5. Skippy says:

    This is so sad I’ll be at the ceremony again this year like last. amazing it has taken the DOD this long to come clean on this…

  6. L. Taylor says:

    So after there is no legal consequences for the Bell or Boeing for the crash the DoD admits that the design was flawed.