Marine Corps Widow Pushes Back After Claims Deadly Osprey Malfunction Is 99% Fixed
2023/07/31

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The wife of one of the pilots who died in a deadly Osprey crash is questioning the Marine Corps' claims of a near-perfect fix for the persistent clutch issue that caused the accident. Amber Sax, the wife of Capt. John Sax, expressed skepticism about the Marine Corps' assertion that a part swap would reduce the risk of a hard clutch engagement (HCE) event by over 99%. Aviation experts also raised concerns about the claim, considering the underlying problem has not been identified.

Col. Brian Taylor, the program manager of the V-22 program, defended the model used to calculate the risk reduction and expressed confidence in the military's research to mitigate future incidents.

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The fix involves replacing a part called the input quill assembly, which is believed to be related to HCE.

The Marine Corps had previously acknowledged that HCE had plagued the Osprey platform for years, with 15 mishaps reported. The crash in June 2022 was the first known incident resulting in casualties from HCE. While the replacement part has been implemented, the exact cause of HCE remains unknown.

The Marine Corps claimed that the risk of an HCE event occurring was reduced by over 99% through various efforts, including the part replacement. However, Amber Sax questioned the basis for this calculation and expressed her disappointment that the Marine Corps did not provide detailed figures or explanations to the families.

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Aviation experts and retired Marine Corps aviator Ron Alvarado raised further doubts about the claim, stating that it is not surprising given the controversies surrounding the Osprey aircraft.

Col. Taylor cited data from 16 incidents, including the publicly disclosed ones, as the basis for the 99% risk reduction calculation. However, it is unclear how exactly this calculation was derived, and Marine Corps officials did not provide answers when asked about additional clutch mishaps between August and February.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the cause of HCE, efforts are focused on risk mitigation since the Osprey aircraft are necessary for missions.

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The Air Force has expressed confidence in the mitigation measures, and Japan, which also flies the Osprey, grounded its fleet after the release of the crash report.

Amber Sax and other families of the crash victims are seeking answers and have hired an aviation attorney to investigate the clutch issue and the crash further. They hope to apply pressure on the developer and manufacturers to find the root cause and prevent similar catastrophic failures from happening in the future.

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