This is an excellent piece on the flying characteristics of the MV-22 Osprey, with opinions from pilots who have helped develop the aircraft and those who both like and don’t like it. It’s got terrific analysis about how the Osprey is not quite a helicopter, yet not quite an airplane. It requires pilots to develop a new frame of reference on how they fly. Interestingly, those who transition to the Osprey from fixed-wing aircraft have a better experience than those who have all their hours in helicopters.
“One of the biggest problems we’ve had in the [pilot] community is getting past the idea that it’s a helicopter that flies fast,” Leonard said. “It’s not. It’s an airplane that hovers. And if you fly the airplane like a helicopter, yes, it’s very difficult to fly as a helicopter. And if you do that, you have a very good chance of having a problem with controllability because of the way the aircraft operates. If you fly it like an airplane and you are willing to take the time to understand the capabilities of it in helicopter, it’s a very, very easy airplane to fly.”
The numbers don’t lie: the Osprey is a safe aircraft—in the right hands. The only bone I have to pick with the article is that it compares safety records of the Osprey versus helicopters, without comparing the operational numbers of each type. While there have been few fatal Osprey crashes in recent history, there are only 200+ Ospreys in service, while there are thousands of helicopters of all types in operation. A comparison of percentages would be more enlightening.
I would encourage anybody interested in the MV-22 to give this a careful read. Good stuff.
US Navy photo