Operating Costs Come Down for V-22 Tiltrotor

 - June 13, 2011, 7:37 AM
The U.S. Marines and Special Operations Command are currently flying a total of 142 Ospreys.

The cost of operating the Bell-Boeing V-22 Tiltrotor has been significantly reduced in the past year, according to U.S. Marine Col. Greg Masiello, V-22 Joint Program Office manager at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. He said that the program has achieved an 18-percent reduction in hourly operating costs by identifying 43 specific “reliability, maintainability” changes to components and 72 “consumable” parts that can be repaired and maintained. He did not provide absolute numbers for the cost gains.

Masiello briefed reporters on the V-22 program status recently at Boeing Defense, Space & Security facilities in Ridley Park, Pa., where the V-22 fuselage is built and then shipped to Bell Helicopter for final assembly in Amarillo, Texas.

The Bell-Boeing team is on contract to produce 288 Ospreys and is in the third year of a five-year program. The V-22 program of record calls for 458 aircraft. John Rader, Bell Boeing V-22 program manager, said the industry team now is responding to a request for proposals for a second multiyear procurement to 2019.

In addition to the component efficiencies, Masiello said the program is working with Rolls-Royce on changes that could increase time-on-wing of the Osprey’s Liberty AE1107C turbines by 45 percent. He said a software change to an engine-control device could yield another 80-percent improvement in time on wing. The software update is scheduled to fly in August.

There are currently 142 Marine Corps MV-22 and U.S. Special Operations Command CV-22 Ospreys in service with test and training as well as deployed squadrons. The fleet has logged some 115,000 flight hours in theaters that include Iraq and Afghanistan, and about half of those hours were flown in the past two years.

“These aircraft are excelling in the combat environment,” Masiello said. “They’ve been engaged by the enemy; they’ve been hit. All the assumptions that we’ve made with respect to survivability are proven out. We haven’t lost an aircraft due to enemy action.”