An MV-22B Osprey aircraft went down on Sunday morning during a multinational training exercise near Darwin, Australia. Twenty-three Marines were onboard the aircraft of the crash. Three were killed and at least eight others were hospitalized.
The Osprey that crashed was one of two that were flying from Darwin to Melville as part of the “Exercise Predators Run,” which involves the militaries of Australia, East Timor, Indonesia, the Philippines, and the U.S.
Military authorities have identified the deceased Marines as Corporal Spencer R. Collart, 21, Captain Eleanor V. LeBeau, 29, and Major Tobin J. Lewis, 37. Collart was the Osprey crew chief, LeBeau was a pilot, and Lewis served as the executive officer of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 363 (VMM-363).
The cause of the Osprey crash in Australia is currently under investigation. Military aircraft crash investigations typically take a year or more to complete.
About the MV-22 Osprey
The MV-22 Osprey is a highly complex aircraft with a troubled history. Its unique design, featuring two rotor blades above extended wings, allows it to perform vertical takeoffs and landings, while also achieving faster flight speeds than traditional helicopters by tilting the nacelles forward during flight, resembling a fixed-wing aircraft. The Osprey combines the speed and range of a turboprop, the agility of a helicopter, and the ability to transport 24 fully equipped combat Marines at twice the speed and five times the distance compared to previous helicopters.
While the aircraft is considered technologically advanced, the Osprey has had its share of so called “mishaps”. The V-22 Osprey has been involved in 15 hull loss accidents, leading to a total of 54 fatalities. During testing from 1991 to 2000, there were four crashes in which 30 fatalities occurred. Since its operational debut in 2007, the V-22 has experienced ten crashes, including two in combat zones. Additionally, there have been several other accidents and incidents resulting in a total of 24 fatalities.
Troubling History of Osprey Crashes
- June 8, 2022: Five US Marines died after an MV-22 Osprey crashed during a training mission near Glamis, California. According to the investigative report, the Osprey crash in California was caused by a mechanical issue with a clutch, which resulted in a catastrophic loss of power. The report further noted 16 similar clutch problems with Osprey flights since 2012.
Wisner Baum represents four Marine Corps families in legal cases stemming from this crash, which we believe was preventable.
- March 18, 2022: Four US service members were killed when the MV-22 Osprey they were traveling in crashed during NATO training exercises in Norway.
- September 28, 2017: A Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey crashed in Syria, injuring two service members.
- August 5, 2017: An MV-22B Osprey crashed off the coast of Australia, killing three Marines.
- December 13, 2016: An MV-22B Osprey crash-landed in shallow waters off Okinawa, Japan, injuring two.
- May 17, 2015: An MV-22 Osprey crash at Bellows training ground in Hawaii killed two Marines.
- June 13, 2012: An Air Force CV-22 Osprey crashed during a routine training mission north of Navarre, Florida, injuring five.
- April 11, 2012: Two US personnel were killed in an Osprey crash in Morocco.
- April 8, 2010: US Air Force Osprey crashed in southern Afghanistan, killing three US service members and one civilian employee.
- December 11, 2000: Four Marines were killed when an Osprey crashed in North Carolina. Authorities said problems with a hydraulic part and a software anomaly in the aircraft’s computer system caused the fatal crash.
- April 8, 2000: A crash during a training exercise in Arizona killed 19 Marines.
- July 20, 1992: Seven people were killed during testing when an Osprey crashed in Virginia.
Aviation Attorney Discusses Osprey Crashes
Timothy Loranger is an attorney and Marine Corps veteran who has litigated numerous aviation accident cases, including those involving military aircraft. His military and pilot experience, combined with a varied background in science and mechanics, give him unique insight into the investigative process.
“It will likely take a year or more before the cause of the crash in Australia is made public,” Loranger says. “While it is premature to try and make any connections, we do know that another fatal Osprey crash (Swift 11) last year was caused by a mechanical failure that neither the military nor the Osprey’s manufacturers have answers for. The military aviation community deserves clarity here; Marines and others who serve should not be put unnecessarily in harm’s way if there is any question regarding the safety of this aircraft.”
Loranger and his firm are preparing a product liability lawsuit against Bell-Boeing, the manufacturers of the Osprey, on behalf of multiple families who lost Marines in the June 2022 Osprey crash.
Wisner Baum Military Accident Attorneys
At Wisner Baum, we understand the tremendous risks that members of the military face when operating high-tech aircraft in complex environments. While they bravely protect our country, they should not have to contend with mechanical failures stemming from negligence or design defects. Each year, too many members of the U.S. military lose their lives or sustain injuries due to faulty manufacturing, design flaws, or maintenance negligence.
Our attorneys have decades of experience representing military families in legal cases stemming from preventable aviation disasters. If you or a family member was harmed in a military accident, we are here to help and provide you with the support you deserve.