Bell Boeing Astounding V-22 Osprey Tilt Rotor Aircraft

By Pete van der Spek

The V-22 tilt rotor aircraft is an astounding but very complicated piece of equipment. I first saw this aircraft flying a display at RIAT in 2006 and it was an MV-22 version - the US Marines brought one along that year. What an amazing aircraft.

Over the years at RIAT, we have seen many displays by this aircraft - both MV-22 and CV-22 versions. The different versions being the MV-22 (US Marines) and the CV-22B (USAF Special Forces).

In 2017, I got to climb inside one of these machines and chat to one of the pilots. He told me it is one of the most complex aircraft in the USAF armoury and very nice to fly, albeit fairly difficult at first to get used to. However, once you have mastered the tilt rotor technic, it is a great aircraft to fly. The only problem he mentioned to me was the fact that even when the rotors are folded and the wing swung (for storage and for moving around on board a ship or cargo aircraft) the aircraft will not fit inside a C-5 or C-17:- it is just too high.

The CV-22B being a Special Forces aircraft, is used for highly classified tasks and can be equipped with a M240 .308 caliber or M2 .50 caliber machine gun on the rear loading ramp. The ramp is lowered for troop deployment as well as for loading goods. The particular one I climbed into (and the display aircraft) was from the 7th Special Operations Squadron based at RAF Mildenhall.

Watching this aircraft fly is totally beyond anything I have ever watched. The aircraft can take off directly like a helicopter or a short run on the runway. The rotors are then tilted forward to get the aircraft up to speed - the transition from tilted up to forward movement is surprisingly fast. The top speed of the aircraft is fairly quick and those huge blades are pretty slow turning, making the life of a photographer a misery to get movement in the picture.

The Osprey started life as a concept in the early 80's and Bell Helicopters and Boeing Helicopters were awarded the contract to jointly to produce the first aircraft - which flew for the first time in 1989. The complexity of the concept caused many years of development, but finally produced an aircraft that was unique both in concept and in capability.

The USMC first flew their version (MV-22B) in 2000 and it went into field service in 2007. The USAF version (CV-22B) went into service in 2009. The aircraft has been pressed into deploying troops, medivac and transporting goods to difficult spots in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Kuwait. There is a plan for a Navy version (CMV-22B) for use on carriers in 2021.

Powered by two Rolls Royce AE1107C engines and are connected by drive shafts to a common gearbox. If one engine fails, the surviving engine can power both props after which an emergency landing can be executed, albeit not in an orderly fashion. It will not hover on one engine alone, making emergency landings hazardous indeed.

There is ongoing development of the aircraft - an Early Warning version (EV-22), a Search and Rescue version (HV-22) and an Anti-Submarine (SV-22) variant are being proposed.

All in all, quite a unique aircraft with varied capabilities and very pleasing on the eye for the aviation enthusiast.

For the technically minded:

Max speed is 275 knots or 316 kph
Range is 1012 miles or 1628 kms
Combat range is 450 miles or 720 kms
Service ceiling is 25,000 feet
Capacity is 24 troops (seated) or 32 troops (floor loaded) or 20,000lbs (9,070kgs) internal cargo

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