Computer Problem Grounds Osprey

It could be several weeks before the V-22 Osprey is back in flight. 

A faulty computer chip led the U.S. Marine Corps to ground the aircraft today.

Testing showed that in below-freezing temperatures, the computers could lose their redundancy features -- a safety net if one of the computers is damaged by enemy fire, according to the Marine Corps. That could cause the pilot to lose control of the aircraft.

All 46 of the Marine Ospreys are affected by the problem, so one by one each aircraft has to be checked. 

The Marines and Bell-Boeing say the chip failure has not occurred in flight.

Roger Williams of the Amarillo Bell plant says that's because of the rigourous testing the aircraft are put through.

"This speaks to what a robust aircraft of testing and diagnostics we go through because this wasn't found during an incident it was found during normal pre-flight testing
This process could take as little as 10 days, or up to several weeks depending on how many aircraft are affected."

The good news is officials do not expect anyone to lose their job as a result of the temporary grounding.

So Bell Helicopter employees can breathe a sigh of relief.

The Osprey is still scheduled to deploy to Iraq later this year.

From the Bell-Boeing Osprey Website:

The V-22 Osprey aircraft:

  • can transport 24 combat troops or up to 20,000 pounds of internal or external cargo using its medium lift and vertical takeoff and landing capabilities
  • meets U.S. Navy requirements for combat search and rescue, fleet logistics support, and special warfare support
  • matches the U.S. Special Operations Command's requirement for a high-speed, long-range, vertical lift aircraft
  • can be stored aboard an aircraft carrier because the rotors can fold and the wing rotate
  • has air-to-air refueling capability, the cornerstone of the ability to self-deploy

Boeing is responsible for the fuselage and all subsystems, digital avionics, and fly-by-wire flight-control systems. Boeing partner Bell Helicopter Textron, Inc., is responsible for the wing, transmissions, empennage, rotor systems and engine installation.

The V-22 provides a significant increase in operational range over the legacy systems it will replace and is the only vertical platform capable of rapid self-deployment to any theater of operation worldwide.

For more information, read the V-22 Osprey (PDF) overview.