Lawsuit alleges contractors lied about V-22’s safety

Lawsuit alleges contractors lied about V-22’s safety

Family members of Marines killed in a V-22 Osprey crash two years ago are suing Boeing, Bell Textron, and Rolls Royce—accusing the companies of knowing the aircraft was unsafe and not disclosing it to the Pentagon. 

The companies made “recklessly false statements” about the Osprey, leading five service members to fly in an “unsafe and unairworthy aircraft,” according to allegations in a complaint filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. Everyone on board the plane was killed when it crashed in a remote training area in California.

A Marine Corps investigation found the June 8, 2022 crash was caused by a gear problem, specifically a “dual hard clutch engagement” that caused the engine and the interconnect drive system to fail. The service has been aware of the hard clutch engagement problem in Ospreys since 2010, and the crash was the 16th time it had happened since then, Marines said last year. However, the June 2022 crash was the first time anyone died as an apparent result of the issue, the Marines said. 

Air Force Special Operations Command grounded its V-22s for a few weeks in 2022 because of several accidents that involved hard clutch engagements; the Marine Corps did not ground its Ospreys at that time.

The flight was part of a routine training operation called Swift 11. 

“Due to the Osprey’s lack of compliance with government specifications, the Swift 11’s pilots and crew were powerless to counteract the aircraft’s uncontrollable asymmetric thrust condition where there was a sudden loss of thrust on the right-hand proprotor and positive thrust on the left proprotor,” the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit accuses the companies of “negligence, negligent misrepresentation, and fraudulent misrepresentation” for making what it says were false statements to the U.S. military about the Osprey, according to a statement from the lawyer representing the families. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of four of the five Marines’ families. 

“We seek accountability, answers, and change. Our goal isn’t to see this platform removed; it’s to know that someday we will be able to say, ‘their lives enabled others to live,’ knowing what happened to them won’t ever be repeated. Finding the root cause of these mechanical failures and pressing for full transparency for our military, service members, and their families is only part of our advocacy,” Amber Sax, the wife of Capt. John Sax, who died in the crash, said in a statement.

“We want assurance that these components have been successfully redesigned, tested, and rendered safe. The importance of addressing this cannot be overstated—it is not just about fixing a machine, but about ensuring that no other family has to endure this loss again,” Sax said. 

Boeing and Bell Textron build the Osprey, and Rolls Royce supplies the engines. When asked for a comment, Boeing said it doesn’t comment on pending litigation. The Marine Corps said the same.

The Osprey has been involved in more than a dozen deadly crashes during its development and since it came into service. Just last year, eight airmen were killed in a crash off the coast of Japan and three Marines were killed in another crash off the coast of Australia.



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