CLOVIS, N.M. (KAMR/KCIT) — The United States Air Force temporarily grounds its CV-22 Osprey fleet. Cannon Air Force Base officials confirmed the stand down to KAMR today.
“Air Force Special Operations Commander, Lieutenant General Jim Slife had directed the stand down of the CV-22 fleet, due to an increased number of safety incidents is experienced,” said Misty Mercado, Media Operations Chief for the 27th Special Operations Wing at CAFB.
She said the stand down of all 52 Air Force CV-22 Ospreys, which are assembled at Bell Boeing’s Amarillo Plant, went into effect last Tuesday, August 16th, as a precautionary move.
“Since 2017, there have been four incidences involving a hard clutch engagement during the flight with to occurring in the past six weeks. It was imperative for us to make that proactive effort in order to investigate the issue,” she explained.
Hard clutch engagement is when the clutch, which connects the gearbox to the engine, slips, then catches hard, which can cause the aircraft to lurch or become harder to control.
Mercado said the Air Force is working to identify the root cause and establish necessary risk control measures. A timeline of how long the stand down will last isn’t known, but currently, operations at Cannon are still going smoothly.
“It really hasn’t affected us, our operational mission still remains the same. The CV-22 flying crews at the 20th Special Operations Squadron continue to train and simulators to the maximum extent that they can so that we mitigate any proficiency or currency losses should the stand down, extend beyond two weeks,” she said.
In a statement, the Air Force said the issue hasn’t caused any injuries or deaths, “due in large part to the skill and professionalism of our air commandos who operate the CV-22.”
Mercado told us the number one priority is “making sure that we put our airmen and their safety and consideration of their safety first and foremost.”
We reached out to Bell Boeing for comment, and they said, “we have nothing further to add at this time, and will continue to work closely with AFSOC staff and joint program office.”