MV-22 can be folded like a Transformer for stowage aboard ship,
or to conserve hangar space. Pushing one button activates a
computer program that automatically stows and unstows the
complicated wing and rotor. Photo by Frederick A. Johnsen
of a button folds its huge rotors and twists the wing 90 degrees on the
Marine MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft at AirVenture 2008. The Marines
delight in showing that Transformers-like quality to visitors. Then, on
close inspection, visitors thump the fuselage and are surprised that it
does not resonate like aluminum—it is composite structure. The Marines
a third thing the Marines would like AirVenture visitors to take away
with them: The MV-22 Osprey is a safe, combat-tested airplane. Following
media coverage years ago, an impression lingers that this airplane
crashes. Staff Sgt. M.A. Rivera, a maintenance controller for the
Ospreys of Marine Squadron VMM-266, says unequivocally: "We got the
bugs worked out." He said the MV-22 of today is very reliable. The
operational Ospreys are Block-B aircraft, incorporating changes over
those pre-Block-A Ospreys that made the evening news by crashing.
"I can sleep on the plane, no problem," Rivera offers.
pilot Capt. Ahron Oddman enthusiastically endorses the safety of the
MV-22 he flies. A believer in tilt-rotor development, he says: "It’s
a revolutionary aircraft…the tilt-rotor 10 years from now is going to
blow this out of the water."
Rivera, and other Marines accompanied the MV-22 on its flight from
Jacksonville, North Carolina. Next month, the entire squadron departs
for Iraq for eight to 10 months as another Marine squadron rotates home.
In Iraq, the Osprey is proving its worth as a transporter of 24 combat
troops, cargo, and sling loads. With a two-point fore-and-aft sling,
10,000 pounds can be hefted beneath the Osprey—that’s a third of the
aircraft’s dry weight.
composite molded skin of the Osprey has some bonded stiffeners visible
inside the Spartan fuselage; other belt frames—also of composite
material—are riveted to the skin. The use of composites saves weight
while making the MV-22’s radar signature smaller than that of a metal
airplane, the Marines say.
The Osprey can take off
and land vertically. With heavy loads, rolling takeoffs and landings
with the engine pods canted forward at a ground-clearing angle are used,
Rivera explains. Once up and in full forward flight, the big-rotored
Osprey can clip along at 240 knots. "In airplane mode, there is a
small vibe," he says of the Osprey’s operating vibrations. This
turns to a "hard vibe" during transition to or from vertical
flight, and back to a small vibe in helicopter flight.