Accident-prone Osprey makes emergency landing in Japan's Okinawa

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-07 13:27:33|Editor: Hou Qiang
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TOKYO, June 7 (Xinhua) -- A U.S. military Osprey aircraft made an emergency landing Tuesday night on an island in Japan's southernmost prefecture of Okinawa, Japan's Defense Ministry said Wednesday.

The ministry said the tilt-rotor aircraft made the emergency landing at the Ie Jima Auxiliary Airfield, which is located near Okinawa's main island, after an emergency warning light was flashing in the cockpit.

According to the defense ministry, there were no reports of injury to the airplane's personnel and the plane itself was not damaged in what the U.S. military described was a preventative landing.

The Osprey, which has a checkered safety history around the globe, belongs to a squadron at the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, also in Okinawa, and central to a protracted spat between the central and local governments about its relocation to a coastal area on the island.

Osprey aircraft are abhorred in Okinawa particularly, where the bulk of U.S. military bases are located, due to their poor safety record and unbearable amount of noise caused by their huge turboprop engines that swivel to allow the plane to take off and land like a helicopter, but fly like a regular fixed-winged plane.

Local fears about the Osprey's safety were heightened in Okinawa in December last year following the crash landing of one of the planes in waters off Nago in Okinawa, near the U.S. Marine Corps' Camp Schwab.

The incident, which saw five crew members airlifted to safety and then subsequently treated for injuries, involved an MV-22 Osprey making a "shallow landing" according to U.S. military accounts.

The crash marked the first major accident involving an Osprey since its deployment in Japan in 2012 and had Okinawan officials vehemently call for the planes to be withdrawn from Japan.

The planes' safety was called into question prior to that incident by local officials and citizens here in May 2014 when an MV-22B Osprey crashed in Hawaii, leaving two dead and 20 more injured and in August a year earlier, concerns about the plane were stoked when four crew members narrowly escaped injury when a Marine Corps' Osprey made a "hard landing" near the Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, in the United States.

In April 2012, an Osprey crashed in Morocco and killed two Marines and another crash in Florida in June 2012 injured all five crew members.

Thirty Marines lost their lives in three crashes, including 19 in a single accident in Arizona, in 2000, during the Osprey's developmental phase, launching the plane's checkered safety record.

In 2010, an Air Force CV-22 Osprey, each of which costs around 100 million U.S. dollars, touched down short of its landing zone in Afghanistan, hit a ditch, and flipped over, killing four Marines.