Does the V-22 Osprey deserve the name pervertiplane because it combines the worse features of the helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft?
By: Ringo Bones
If New York Times Bestseller List literary phenom E.L. James was an avid aviation enthusiast, James would have chosen to use the V-22 Osprey as the private plane for Christian Grey – the young billionaire business magnate and lead character of Fifty Shades of Grey due to the “perverted” nature of how the V-22 Osprey works aerodynamically. But does such family of aircraft deserve such disparaging label?
Back in the beginning 1960s, where the granddad of the V-22 Osprey and related aircraft were at their development stage, one prominent aeronautical engineer (Igor Sikorsky?) has suggested the name “pervertiplanes” because so many of such machines – in his view – combine the worst features of the helicopter and the fixed-wing aircraft. The necessary provision of such structurally difficult features as tilting wings, tilting rotors, cascade vane assemblies and the like, which may be subjected to high gas temperatures and periodically fluctuating air loads, all at minimum structural weight, leads to the development of very complicated mechanical devices. The complication of these devices, in turn, leads to a high probability of mechanical failure.
Ever since Bell Helicopter and Boeing Helicopter was awarded the developmental contract by the US DoD for the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor type aircraft back in 1983, engineering problems of such aircraft that were uncovered back in the 1960s were tried to be “engineered out” via the use of newly mass-manufactured ultra-lightweight ultra-strong composites 1980s era composite materials. The USMC began training crews for the Osprey back in 2000 before its kinks were finally ironed out and its first long-delayed rollout in 2007 as a replacement of its ageing heavy lift helicopters that date back from the 1960s – i.e. the USMC’s fleet of Chinooks and CH-46 Sea Knight fleet.
Back in October 2007, Time magazine ran an article condemning the V-22 Osprey as unsafe, overpriced and completely inadequate. Given that composite materials make up 43 percent of the Osprey’s overall airframe – and composite materials aren’t exactly cheap – Time magazine may have been correct about the high cost issue of the Osprey. Safely-wise, during its testing phase from 1991 to 2000, there were four crashes that resulted in 30 fatalities. Since becoming operational in 2007, the V-22 Osprey has had 3 crashes that had resulted in 6 fatalities and several minor incidents. The aircraft’s accident history has generated some controversy over its perceived safety issues. Given the aircraft’s history, fictitious billionaire-sex-pervert Christian Grey would probably, in his right mind, steer clear away from using such “pervertiplanes” such as the V-22 Osprey as his main private plane / corporate aircraft.