Marines to order 24-hour stand-downs for flying units in wake of fatal crashes
By COREY DICKSTEIN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 11, 2017
WASHINGTON — Marine Corps aviation units must cease flying for a 24-hour period within the next two weeks to review safety procedures following two recent Marine crashes that killed 19 troops, the service’s top general ordered Friday.
Gen. Robert Neller, the Marine commandant, has ordered aviators to review “the fundamentals of safe flight operations, standardization, and combat readiness” during the “operational reset,” said Capt. Ryan Alvis, a spokeswoman for the Corps.
“The intent is for flying squadrons to review selected incidents which occurred enterprise-wide and study historical examples of completed investigations in order to bring awareness and best practices to the fleet,” she said.
Unit commanders will determine when to conduct the stand-downs. Neller’s order instructed commanders to conduct the pause when it will not interrupt training or combat operations.
Fifteen Marines and a sailor were killed in the July 10 crash of a KC-130T tanker-transport aircraft into the Mississippi Delta. Three additional Marines died Saturday in the crash of an MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft just off the coast of Australia.
The Marines on Wednesday announced they had determined the Ospreys were safe to fly following inspections and a preliminary investigation into Saturday’s crash. In that incident, the Osprey crashed into the deck of the USS Green Bay as it was landing on the amphibious transport dock before crashing into the ocean about 18 miles off the coast of Queensland. The three Marines killed are believed to have been trapped inside the aircraft as it sank, officials said. Twenty-three others aboard the aircraft were rescued.
In the July crash, the KC-130T appears to have broken up in mid-air before it crashed to the ground leaving two debris trails each stretching more than a mile long, an initial investigation found. All of the personnel aboard the plane were killed. The Marines grounded its entire fleet of 12 KC-130T aircraft following the incident.
Safety stand-downs of individual airframes or for particular units are not uncommon.
Last August, the Marines ordered a similar stand-down for all F/A-18 Hornets aircraft following several crashes of the fighter jets. The Marines also temporarily grounded AV-8B Harrier and Osprey aircraft in Japan last year following non-fatal wrecks.
An MV-22 Osprey prepares to land aboard the USNS Lewis B. Puller, on July 5, 2017. The Marine Corps announced Friday, Aug. 11, that all its aviation units must cease flying for a 24-hour period within the next two weeks to review safety procedures, following two recent crashes that killed 19 servicemembers.
AUSTIN A. LEWIS/U.S. MARINE CORPS