2012年07月09日

Stars and Stripes deletes a story on the Osprey's safety

Stars and Stripes on July 2 published a story titled "Is Osprey safe? Depends on which stats are used" but deleted it later on from its website.

I just wonder why Stars and Stripes did so...Was there any political pressure from the USMC because the story was a little bit critical of the Osprey?

If that is the case, I cannot believe it because the US should have freedom of expression and speech always.

Please drop me a line, if you guys know something on this matter.

But thanks to Google's cash, I could bring back that story in here.
Please see below.

Is Osprey safe? Depends on which stats are used

By Matthew M. Burke and Travis J. Tritten
Stars and Stripes
Published: July 2, 2012
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SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan − The Defense Department says the MV-22B Osprey is safe. Residents of Okinawa, where 24 of the tilt-rotor aircraft are to be deployed soon, strongly disagree, with the prefectural governor threatening a movement to close all U.S. military bases on the Japanese island if their concerns are not addressed.

Who is right or wrong might not be so black and white. It all depends on which statistics you use for the helicopter-plane hybrid that has been combat tested in Iraq and Afghanistan. The key is whether two recent high-profile crashes are included in its safety record.

The Japanese government released a Marine Corps environmental review of the Osprey’s proposed deployment on June 14, a day after the U.S. Air Force reported that one of its Ospreys flipped over on a Florida base, injuring the crew. Safety statistics in the report said the aircraft are safer than the aging CH-46E Sea Knights, which the Ospreys are replacing.

That was true until a deadly Osprey crash in Morocco in April claimed the lives of two Marines and inflamed Japanese concerns over the aircraft’s safety. Factor in those crashes, and statistics indicate the Osprey is significantly less safe than the Sea Knight. Those updated statistics were provided to Japanese officials in addendum to the environmental review, Japanese government and Marine Corps officials said.

But the Marine Corps says those figures are misleading.

“The numbers don’t tell the story of the bird,” Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Richard Ulsh said. “It’s a safe aircraft.”

The safety figures are based on the number of Class A mishaps per 100,000 flight hours. Class A mishaps involve repair costs for the aircraft or government property exceeding $2 million or the death or permanent disability of a servicemember.

In the review given to the Japanese government, the Osprey was listed as having a better safety record than the 1980s-era Sea Knights − 1.12 Class A mishaps per 100,000 flight hours, compared with 1.14 for the Sea Knight. Responding to a Stars and Stripes query, Marine Corps headquarters released a new set of statistics that included the recent crashes and indicated the Osprey is significantly less safe − 1.93 Class A mishaps per 100,000 flight hours to 1.11 for the Sea Knights, best known locally for their daily flights over Okinawa and a crash into a local university in 2004. The Marine Corps Sea Stallion, Harrier 2 and Super Stallion all have worse safety records at 4.51, 6.76 and 2.35, respectively. The Osprey is below the Marine Corps average of 2.45. Those numbers would seem to confirm Okinawans’ fears about the aircraft.
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To be fair, Ulsh counters that the Osprey has proved itself in continuous combat missions over the past five years, and that the numbers are overly skewed by crash in Morocco. The numbers spike when an aircraft with low flight hours has a Class A mishap, Ulsh said. In the last 10 years, the Sea Knight has more than 480,000 flight hours compared with 115,000 for the Osprey since 2007. So a crash or two wouldn’t have the same impact on the Sea Knight’s record as they do for the Osprey.

“In five years of operational flight, the MV-22 has only had two Class A mishaps; the most recent one taking place in Morocco in April of this year,” Ulsh said. “Given the fact that the past five years include continuous combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, this relatively low number of mishaps is considered a testament to the aircraft’s safety and survivability.”

However, Ulsh agreed that the aircraft’s record would be worse still if it included Class B and C mishaps, which are less serious in property damage and injury, like the crash in Florida.

Spooked by the recent crashes, Okinawans strongly object to the planned deployment. The prefectural government and cities have passed resolutions opposing it and calling the MV-22 dangerously defective. About 5,000 Okinawans showed up at a June 17 Osprey protest in Ginowan city.

“While it has long been said that Ospreys are defective aircraft, recent crashes like the one in Morocco and in Florida once again proved it,” said Seishin Hanasaki, 73, who attended the rally with his wife and neighbors.

“It’s very scary to think that such accident-prone airplane will fly over our skies,” said his wife, Hatsuyo Hanasaki, 70.

Atsushi Sakima, mayor of Ginowan and an organizer of the event, agreed.

“To protect the lives and property of citizens, I call for immediate cancellation of the deployment of Osprey to Okinawa,” he told the rally.

More protests followed on Sunday, when Japanese Minister of Defense Satoshi Morimoto visited Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima to explain the host nation notification the U.S. government issued last week on the deployment.

“We are yet to be convinced of the safety of the aircraft,” Nakaima said during the half-hour meeting. He also discounted the initial explanation the Marine Corps provided on the Morocco crash, which he said was attributed to pilot error after the aircraft was hit by a tailwind.

“Is the aircraft that hard to operate to maneuver a tailwind, which is a natural phenomenon?” Nakaima asked.

The U.S. Department of Defense has not issued its final report, but said Friday that the crash was not due to mechanical failure.

Morimoto stopped short of discussing the government’s stance on the aircraft.

“What is clear is that the United States is continuing flight operations of the aircraft despite the accidents,” he said, adding Japan would reserve opinions until final reports on the crashes are released. “We are not in a situation at this moment to make any decision.”

Morimoto was on a two-day tour to Okinawa, host community of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, where the Osprey is to be deployed, and Yamaguchi, host community of Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, where the aircraft will originally land in late July for test flights.

Yamaguchi Gov. Sekinari Nii has expressed opposition to the deployment plans, as has Mayor Yoshihiko Fukuda of Iwakuni, where the Ospreys would fly two or three times a month to refuel.

There are also concerns in Sasebo, home to Sasebo Naval Base and ships of the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet. The amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard deployed there recently with upgrades to carry the Osprey.

Officials in Iwakuni said the Japanese government will not be able to proceed without public support.

The U.S. government announced last week that in recognition of Japanese safety concerns, the Ospreys will be grounded until the final crash investigations are provided to Japan. The Japanese Ministry of Defense has said it will set up a team to independently evaluate the Ospreys’ safety.

“If the deployment takes place by brushing aside concerned voices of the people of Okinawa, it will inevitably lead to a prefectural-wide movement to demand immediate closure of all the military bases on the island,” Nakaima said.

Ulsh said the Sea Knights are old and must be replaced. The Department of Defense has touted the Ospreys’ versatility, which includes the humanitarian arena. But the Japanese must live with the aircraft. And it isn’t just an Okinawan issue. Their increased range allows for more flights over mainland Japan, Ulsh said. He is confident the Osprey will serve safely, but he says there are no alternatives to the planned deployment.

“There isn’t another answer,” he said. “It’s important for us to have the Okinawan people think this is a safe aircraft.”

Stars and Stripes reporters Chiyomi Sumida and Hana Kusumoto contributed to this report.

burkem@pstripes.osd.mil

trittent@pstripes.osd.mil

Thousands of Okinawans gathered June 17 to protest the planned deployment of the Marine Corps Osprey aircraft to the island later this year.
Travis J. Tritten/Stars and Stripes

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Image_28299619.jpg
Osprey aircraft could soon be parked on spots like this on the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard, which was retrofitted to facilitate their move to the Pacific, seen here at Sasebo Naval Base.
Matthew M. Burke/Stars and Stripes
タグ:OSPREY
posted by Kosuke at 04:35| Comment(0) | Journalism
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