Farnborough Air Show

V-22s hop The Pond (nearly) flawlessly

 - November 16, 2006, 7:03 AM

Last week’s transatlantic hop to Farnborough by two Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotors proved the long-range self-deployment capability of the revolutionary tilt-rotor. The daily flying display here by Bell Boeing test pilot Steve Grossmeyer is sure to be one of the highlights for show visitors.

But all did not go smoothly across The Pond, as Col. Glenn Waters, U.S. Marine Corps, explained to Aviation International News. The pair of Ospreys flew uneventfully from their home base at New River, North Carolina to Goose Bay, Canada for an overnight stop. But during the next day’s 2,300-nm, nine-hour over water transit to the UK, two compressor stalls in quick succession forced one aircraft into Keflavik, Iceland. “We relit from the first stall, and although the second stall did not force a shutdown, we elected to divert,” explained Waters, who was leading the flight. After an engine change, the second aircraft flew on to Farnborough three days later.

Col. Waters is the commander of VMX-22, the V-22 operational test squadron that provided the pair of Ospreys that are currently nesting here. After the aircraft’s long and oft-troubled gestation, rapid progress in fielding the replacement for the Marines’ CH-46 assault helicopters is now apparent at New River. VMX-22 is preparing to evaluate the Block B version. Meanwhile, the training squadron VMMT-204 has a full complement, and the first operational squadron VMM-263 has started to work up. It will be ready to deploy next summer.

The Ospreys flew here configured with only two of the three possible deployment tanks fitted. That provided a total of 15,500 pounds of gas, which was topped up over the Atlantic by two aerial refuelings from the Marines’ own KC-130J Hercules tankers. Cruising altitude was between 15,000 and 21,000 feet, depending on the weather and a deep low pressure area was encountered. The Osprey’s maximum altitude is 25,000 feet.