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Osprey pilots resume formation flying training

Oct. 31, 2012 - 01:21PM   |   Last Updated: Oct. 31, 2012 - 01:21PM  |  
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The Air Force is reinstating formation flying training for CV-22 pilots that follows a crash during a formation flight earlier this year, but the service says the decision to reinstate the training was made before the mishap.

The Air Force dropped formation training in 2007 from the Osprey flight training syllabus to "facilitate on-time graduation," Air Education and Training Command spokeswoman Maj. Carla Gleason said. Pilots would then receive formation training at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., during follow-on mission training after graduation.

Last December, the service decided to reinstate the training, and send pilots to work with the Marine Corps' Marine Medium Tiltrotor Training Squadron 204 at Marine Air Station New River, N.C. The decision was made based on available resources, and the syllabus was implemented in September, Gleason said.

The Marine Corps continued its formation flying training even after the Air Force canceled its training. Pilots from both services fly the MV-22 Marine variant during training.

Errors in formation flight caused the">June crash of a CV-22 on a gunnery range near Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The Osprey went down after pilots flew into the wake of another aircraft during training.

An accident investigation board report said the pilots thought they were far enough away from the leading aircraft, but the wake forced the Osprey to go into a 63-degree roll. Pilots were able to stabilize the wings before it crashed, and the five crew members escaped with non-life-threatening injuries. The $78 million aircraft was destroyed.

The board report identified shortfalls in training and flying techniques that are "areas of concern" and which contributed to the crash. The investigation also found that the Air Force lacks official guidance on how to recover from a roll when an Osprey flies into a wake, and that the CV-22 simulator used in training cannot replicate the turbulence.

Following the incident, Lt. Col. Matthew Glover, the commander of the 8th Special Operations Squadron, was">relieved of command due to a loss of confidence in his ability to lead.

The new training, which was first reported by AOL Defense, is up and running and at any given time there are about eight students in the program, Gleason said.

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