A firm decision on future production of the Bell Boeing V-22 military tiltrotor won't be made until a 90-day review is completed by the Osprey team and the results analysed by the US Department of Defense.

A packed press conference heard yesterday that the study will focus primarily on changes to the aircraft's nacelles. Bell Boeing is seeking to address issues raised by the independent ‘blue ribbon' panel set up to investigate two fatal V-22 crashes in the last 12 months.

Giving his assessment of the troubled programme's status, Gen James L Jones, Commandant of the US Marine Corps, said: "I had hoped to be here showing you the V-22 in flight. Two tragic accidents have deemed otherwise and I can tell you we have examined ourselves in great depth to make sure we are doing the right thing."

Gen Jones said the pace of the programme would now be ‘event driven'. "I would like to see procurement accelerated but we must correct the deficiencies before that can happen."

Similarly, low-rate initial production (LRIP) would continue, but the rate of manufacture would be determined by how quickly ‘fixes' could be implemented, Gen Jones added.

He stressed that the blue ribbon panel described the V-22 technology as a ‘national asset' and the only question to be resolved was making the programme robust enough to justify full-rate production.

He also threw his full support behind the tiltrotor concept, saying it would transform the US military's capabilities both in troop transport and in the rapid deployment of logistics to the battlefield.

Gen Jones pressed the claims of the Bell/Agusta BA609 civil tiltrotor to act as a trainer for the V-22 but stressed that budgetary constraints remained.

Source: Flight Daily News