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Special Event

Pentagon: V-22 Osprey Fleet Grounded While Crash is Investigated

Aired December 12, 2000 - 11:07 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We want to go right to Pentagon right now for this news conference on the latest crash of an Osprey aircraft.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

LT. GEN. FRED MCCORKLE, U.S. MARINE CORPS: ... mission last night down in Jacksonville, North Carolina. I'll tell you the things that we know. As of 0330 or 0030 last night, all the families have been notified, so right now friends and family are with each one of the families.

This is what we know. They took off from New River last night at 6 p.m. to conduct night-instrument and landing practices. And the aircraft had completed its missions, a series of takeoffs and landings, and was returning to the air station. And it's my understanding, I'm not certain of this, that they were on a instrument approach back in. But they were about three minutes out from the airfield when they made a distress call, which was a mayday call.

I was just telling someone the other day, very few people that crash these days, particularly in military aircraft, make a call on the way down. And they did make a mayday call.

The pilot gave no specifics on the nature of the situation, just that it was a mayday.

Air traffic controllers at New River tried to raise them and they couldn't, so they got a fix on where they were. And they were actually five to seven miles, depending on who you talk to, from New River.

It was in a wooded area, which was accessible only by four-wheel drive vehicles.

Since last night -- and I talked to the MIF commander last night a little after midnight, he was out at the scene and talked to several people down there. Since last night, and after getting with the commandant this morning, we have suspended all of our MV-22 flight operations until we have more information on this accident.

I called Vice Admiral Dyer, out at NAVAIR SYSCOM this morning, and asked him to work together with us, because normally if you look at the Navy or the Marine Corps, we'll suspend flights. Only NAVAIR can ground the aircraft. So I said let's do this together and let's call it a suspension until we no more about the accident.

As is standard in this event, we have formed a mishap board. I recommended to the commandant this morning, and he concurred, that we have general officer to head this board.

Further, I met with Dr. Buchanan this morning. And after talking with the commandant, we have requested a delay in the decision to proceed with Milestone III, pending the results of additional information, hopefully from the CSMU.

As many of you know, this program is very, very important to the Marine Corps, to me and, I think, to the nation, and we're going to work very, very hard to see what caused the accident.

Right now, you know as much information as I know. They have recovered the remains of three of our Marines out of the aircraft. They think they have the location of the other Marine, but three of them have been recovered. Both pilots were in that group, and I do not know the other individual's name who was recovered.

We also have found the CSMU in the aircraft which, when I talked to you before about our accident out in Arizona, I'd never seen one of those on any aircraft that I've ever flown in the Marine Corps. We have found its location. It looks like it's in good shape.

And it would be premature for me to tell you when I think we'll have any information out of it, but we'll be working just as hard as we can to find out that information.

QUESTION: What does the CSMU stand for?

MCCORKLE: Crash-survivable memory unit.

QUESTION: Is that a flight recorder?

MCCORKLE: Yes.

And I'm very lucky that I could remember that name on this CSMU.

QUESTION: I'm sorry, is that voice and data, or just data? Voice and data or data?

MCCORKLE: Just data.

KAGAN: We've listening from the Pentagon to Gen. Fred McCorkle from the U.S. Marine Corps. The general announcing that all flight operations of the Osprey aircraft have been suspended, this in light of the latest fatal accident involving the Osprey. It took place last night near Jacksonville, North Carolina and four Marine crewmen did lose their lives.

The Osprey is intended to become the primary transport aircraft for the Marine Corps. So it is very big news that the military has suspended all operations. But this latest fatal accident comes just eight months after another fatal accident that took 19 lives, near Tucson, Arizona, within this last year.

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