An Osprey tiltrotor belonging to Air Force Special Operations Command crashed in Florida Wednesday evening, injuring five people aboard and likely badly damaging or destroying the aircraft. It’s the second crash in three months for the controversial V-22 tiltrotor, which takes off and lands like a helicopter and cruises like an airplane thanks to its rotating wingtip engine nacelles. A Marine Corps V-22 went down in Morocco in April, killing two crew.
Yesterday’s crash occurred “during a routine training mission” at 6:45 PM local time at a training site north of Hurlburt Field, according to the Air Force. Hurlburt is home to the Air Force’s first frontline Osprey squadron. Three of the injured airmen were airlifted to a nearby hospital; the other two were taken by ambulance.
The Air Force has launched an investigation of Wednesday’s incident, but if it turns out anything like the Air Force’s last V-22 crash probe, politics and denial could obscure the truth. In 2010, an Air Force V-22 crashed in Afghanistan, killing four people. The crash investigator, Brig. Gen. Donald Harvel, concluded that engine failure could have been a factor. But his superiors, eager to protect the high-tech aircraft’s reputation, allegedly leaned on Harvel to shift the blame to the V-22′s crew. “There was absolutely a lot of pressure to change my report,” Harvel told Air Force Times.