Families of Marines killed in Osprey crash sue aircraft’s makers

Four families of Marines who died in a 2022 V-22 Osprey crash in California have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the manufacturers of the military aircraft, accusing the companies of not disclosing known safety issues to the Pentagon.

The federal lawsuit, filed Thursday against Boeing, Bell Textron and Rolls-Royce in California, alleges that the makers of the aircraft “failed to timely, accurately, and truthfully apprise the government and military service members of the dangers in the aircraft.”

Bell Textron and Boeing, which make the aircraft, declined to comment on ongoing litigation. Rolls-Royce, which makes Osprey engines, did not respond to a request for comment.

Five Marines were killed after their MV-22B Osprey crashed east of San Diego during a June 2022 training mission.

Air Force Special Operations Command later discovered there was an issue with hard clutch engagement, where the clutch that connects one of an Osprey’s two engines to the propeller rotor slipped for unknown reasons, forcing the aircrew to immediately land the aircraft.

The hybrid aircraft — which rises vertically like a helicopter before flying horizontally like a plane and is used by the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps — has crashed repeatedly over its lifetime, killing more than 50 service members. From March 2022 to November 2023, 20 service members were killed in four crashes.

The most recent such accident in November killed eight Marines when their tiltrotor aircraft went down into the sea off the coast of Japan. The crash is still under investigation.

That incident prompted the U.S. military to ground its entire Osprey fleet for three months and sparked a review of the program, which has yet to be released.

In Thursday’s complaint, the families allege that the California crash was caused by two systems that had not been fixed as the companies made “recklessly false statements” about the “unsafe and unairworthy aircraft.”

“For years Bell-Boeing and others have asserted that this aircraft and all of its systems are safe, yet the facts keep telling a different story,” said Tim Loranger, the attorney representing the families, in a press release.

Amber Sax, the wife of Capt. John Sax, who died in the California crash, told NBC News in a statement that she filed the suit to potentially save others that could be put in danger by the Osprey.

“Our military members deserve equipment and aircraft free of failures, especially failures that can cause the loss of their lives,” she said. “I should have been growing old with my husband. Our two children shouldn’t be growing up without their father.”

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