Marine Corps aviation investigators have determined that a fatal March 18 MV-22B Osprey crash near Bodo, Norway, that killed four Marines was pilot error.
The 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing statement, released Sunday, specifically pointed to a “series of maneuvers” made by the aircraft at a low altitude that “exceeded the maximum angle-of-bank for an MV-22B” as the primary cause of the crash.
Investigators analyzed multiple factors, including weather, training, errors in maintenance paperwork, use of recording devices and inexperience in mountainous terrain, according to the release.
The Osprey departed Bodo, Norway, on a training flight during Exercise Cold Response 2022. The crew conducted local-area flights and confined area landings before returning to base for refueling.
After refueling the crew and aircraft departed on an “approved flight plan in clear conditions” south of Bodo, according to the release.
“However, the aircrew and aircraft deviated from the preplanned and authorized flight and entered the Gratadalen Valley at approximately 4:22 p.m. local,” according to the release.
About a minute later, investigators estimated, the Osprey hit the eastern side of the valley.
Data from the recovered pieces of the aircraft show that the low altitude maneuvers that investigators point to for the cause of the crash included a left turn at a 68 degrees angle-of-bank.
“The steepness of the turn resulted in the loss of both airspeed and altitude, followed by an overcorrected maneuver with a right turn in excess of 80 degrees from which the aircraft could not recover,” according to the statement.
Both maneuvers were out of the official thresholds.
“The Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization Manual states the limit for an angle-of-bank in an MV-22B Osprey is 60 degrees,” according to the statement.
Marines killed in the crash were Capt. Matthew J. Tomkiewicz, 27, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, aircraft commander; Capt. Ross A. Reynolds, 27, of Leominster, Massachusetts, co-pilot; Gunnery Sgt. James W. Speedy, 30, of Cambridge, Ohio, aerial observer; and Cpl. Jacob M. Moore, 24, of Catlettsburg, Kentucky, crew chief.
A fatal June Osprey crash, which killed five Marines, coupled with the March fatal crash led to a Marine Corps all-aviation unit safety stand down between June 21 and July 1.
The June crash remains under investigation.
Between January and June, the Marine Corps had experienced six class-A mishaps, resulting in nine fatalities and the destruction of four aircraft, officials said.
Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.