Thursday, December 23, 2010

According to USAF personnel the exact cause of the first combat loss of a CV-22 Osprey may never be known. Right now the AIB or Accident Investigating Board for the crash is leaning on blaming the pilot for the crash however, one of the investigators seems to feel the aircraft itself has some blame as well if not completely. See Story here.

Be it power loss or Pilot Error (the usual when a crash cannot be explained) there are mixed opinions on the exact cause which may never be found largely because the aircraft went down in a combat zone and had to be destroyed after everyone was pulled out of the aircraft (16 wounded and 4 KIA including the pilot at the controls).

Now normally that would be the end of the story but, the question of the engine problem kept cropping up especially since the stock V-22 comes equipped with an extensive in-flight monitoring system designed to store away not just engine operating parameters but also flight control inputs and many other environmental and flight characteristics that would easily clear up this conflict. Designed to fit in the handy “crash proof” container. So, where is this magical black box? Was it not retrieved along with the Crypto gear and other high value and classified avionics from the aircraft carcass prior to it being intentionally destroyed?

Yeah, well actually it was left behind.

In this story from Defense Tech they relate the story of how the box was seen but left on the ground with the aircraft wreckage because it was not on the master list of items to retrieve prior to aircraft destruction. Left behind and it had all the answers or at least more clues. Destroyed or stolen either way it was not brought out of the field.

Quoting from here (emphasis added):

Several rescue and salvage crews failed to grab the critical device because the incident recorder was not among the items listed for recovery at the crash site, according to Harvel. This was apparently due to a translation problem between U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Air Force manuals for the V-22.

AFSOC inherited instructional manuals — called “Dash-1s” — for the CV-22 from the Marine Corps’ MV-22B units. It was necessary to translate the manuals from Marine piloting and maintenance jargon to USAF terminology, but the translators made a few mistakes, Harvel says.

“Somehow in that translation there was nothing in [the AFSOC manual] that showed this aircraft had a FIR,” he says.

“They had absolutely no idea.”

As a result, he adds, the FIR “was never on the list to get that off the airplane” after a crash.

Ok then, it seems like there is a problem here with not having Translators available to the USAF to clean-up their manuals. Now, where does one go to get a Marine Translator? Well, maybe the Navy has them since they seem to have Marines on some of their ships, maybe the White House has them to spare also since they fly the President around in a Marine Helicopter. It seems to me that finding a Marine Translator would have been easier than say, a Klingon Translator.

And let us ask some other more poignant questions, if not more sincere. How many years has the USAF been flying the CV-22? I did some digging and found that the first production CV-22 was delivered to the USAF at Edwards AFB in September 2005. This particular aircraft was a version of the MV-22B that the Marines use but equipped with RADAR and IR equipment that the Marines do not use. The AFSOC received its first production fully combat ready aircraft in March of 2006. So the USAF had 5 years to get this “translation” done and the AFSOC had more than 4-years to figure out all that specialized Marine jargon and find the USAF equivalent terminology.

What a shame.

Now back to some snark. In the world of the US Military the Marines are labeled as the most serious organized killing machine in the world however, no one and I mean NO ONE in the US Military family claims them as the smartest. Not by a long shot. In fact I would guess that the USAF would claim being the smartest because they get all the latest gear and have found a way to keep from actually getting dirty during war time. So the USAF would claim to be the smartest. Yet, they can’t figure out Marine jargon? And they have had 4 to 5 years to carry those nasty dirty Marine manuals over to the nearest Navy base and ask them for some help with the Translation. / Snark off.

If people had not died and the fact that the AIB is willing to impune the reputation of the Pilot that died in this incident this would be laughable. But the whole AFSOC should be ashamed for not catching this and more importantly, using “translation” of a brother service’s jargon as the excuse. Especially since there are several Standards and Specifications that detail the use of acronyms and abbreviations used in the development of military documentation.

Back home here in the swamp, we live with a Marine and being a former Squid I know how to translate so that my wife and the mother of said Marine has a way to communicate without too many hand signals. I am available to the USAF to assist them in any further “translations” that they may need. Just saying.

BT: Jimmy T sends.


Buck said...

The blurb I read from the AFA unequivocally stated the flight data recorder was destroyed in the post-crash bombing. But then again, that's the Air Force Association.

Merry Christmas to you and yours, Jimmy!

Marine6 said...

Gee, you might think that the Air Farce maintainers who work on the avionics every single day might have noticed that there was this strange "thingy" installed in the aircraft that wasn't mentioned in the paperwork.

And you might think that one of those smart Air Farce maintainers might have brought that fact up to one of those smart Air Farce maintenance officers at some time over the past five years.

But it is so much easier to blame the pilot, who conviently isn't here to defend himself, and the Marines, "who talk funny" for the failure of the Air Farce to see, and identify a critical instrument package.

As an old D.I. might have said, "Get your head out of your a$$e$ and pay attention!"

JimmyT said...

Buck, I read in one of the links I have posted something about them actually seeing it but leaving it behind and then coming back for it but it was now missing. So, they had their chance to retrieve it but missed out. Really too bad because the official cause for the accident will be Pilot error and he was most likely trying to save the aircraft when it went into a ditch and nosed over. But, no way to tell now.

Marine6, you feel like I do. I went to A-School with a whole bunch of Marine Avionic types so I know a think or two how they are trained and how well they work their magic on aircraft. I'll have to write about one of my many incidents with the Air Force and the differences in the training between the Services. Quite revealing actually.

BT: Jimmy T sends.