WASHINGTON — Test flights on the V-22 Osprey will resume in April in a make-or-break effort to resolve whether the innovative but controversial aircraft is safe and reliable, the Defense Department said Friday.
In announcing the renewed testing, the Pentagon's acquisition chief expressed his personal doubts about the aircraft and its design. "But the only way to prove the case one way or the other is to put the airplane back into flight test," said Edward "Pete" Aldridge, undersecretary of Defense.
The V-22s have been grounded since December 2000, after two accidents that killed 23 Marines. Investigations into the crashes and a special Pentagon inquiry found numerous flaws in the aircraft that caused production to be trimmed to a minimum while redesign and re-engineering could be done.
However, Aldridge said Friday that he has concerns about the fundamental "tilt-rotor" technology that underlies the V-22 and makes it unique. The V-22s take off and land like a helicopter and fly like a conventional airplane.