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Boeing, Rolls-Royce and Bell Textron Sued Over Fatal V-22 Osprey Crash

The lawsuit accused the companies of multiple manufacturing and design defects.

The families of five deceased Marines are suing Boeing, Rolls-Royce, and Bell Textron after a V-22 Osprey aircraft training exercise that crashed in June 2022.

The lawsuit alleges that the manufacturers were not honest with service members and the government about the design, operation and safety of the aircraft, engines, transmission, clutch and other systems. 

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    Last year, a military investigation traced the cause of the crash to a dual hard clutch engagement, which created a single engine and interconnect drive system failure. The failure led to a loss of thrust on the right-hand proprotor and the pilots could not recover.

    The investigation concluded that there was no error by pilots, air or maintenance crew that prepared the aircraft for flight the day of the exercise.

    According to the lawsuit, Bell Textron and Boeing are the general contractors that design, manufacture and assemble the V-22 Osprey aircraft. Rolls-Royce is the contractor that produces the aircraft’s engines and components and systems that provide power to both proprotors. 

    The lawsuit accused the companies of multiple manufacturing and design defects and a failure to warn of potential mechanical failures, knowing that the government would rely on their false information. 

    The V-22’s tilting proprotors enable vertical takeoff and landing, similar to a helicopter, but the aircraft can also fly horizontally like an airplane with propellers. However, the Associated Press reported that the V-22 Osprey has experienced hard-clutch engagement over a dozen times since 2010. This includes crashes in August and November last year in Australia and Japan, which killed a total of 11 Marines and Air Force service members and led to the military grounding its Osprey fleet. Osprey flights recently resumed in March. 

    In 2022, the Marines, Navy and Air Force found that the clutches might wear out faster than expected. The branches said more accidents could occur because the military and manufacturers could not identify a root cause and that preventing future issues would require enhancements to flight control system software, strengthened drivetrain components and robust inspection protocols. 

    The Osprey program is reportedly working on redesigning a component to address clutch slippage.

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