2nd MAW releases command investigation into the MV-22B Osprey crash in Norway on March 18, 2022

15 Aug 2022 | 1st Lt. Greg Kosiras 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing

The command investigation into the MV-22B Osprey mishap during Exercise Cold Response 2022 near Bodø, Norway, on March 18, 2022, has been completed by the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW) investigating officer and endorsed by the then-commanding general of 2nd MAW.

On March 18, 2022, a U.S. Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey, call sign “Ghost 31” and assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 261, 2nd MAW, crashed during a training flight in support of Exercise Cold Response 2022. Despite an extensive search-and-rescue effort led by the Norwegians, four U.S. Marines died in the crash and were recovered from the crash site and returned to the United States. We offer our sincere gratitude to the Norwegian Joint Rescue Coordination Center, search-and-rescue operations assets, Norwegian civil authorities, and all those involved in the search, rescue, and recovery efforts.

The four fallen Marines are Capt. Matthew J. Tomkiewicz, the aircraft commander; Capt. Ross A. Reynolds, the co-pilot; Gunnery Sgt. James W. Speedy, the aerial observer; and Cpl. Jacob M. Moore, the crew chief. Their loss continues to be felt across the Marine Corps, and our condolences remain with the family and friends of the fallen.

The Marine Corps thoroughly investigates all mishaps to identify the causes, learn from them, and take action to reduce the chances of future mishaps. The investigating officer and the assistant investigating officer thoroughly reviewed and analyzed data recovered from the mission recorders found at the crash site, aircrew readiness, aircraft maintenance, squadron planning and procedures, external and environmental factors such as weather, and recreations of the flight and atmospherics. The investigation concluded that the cause for the aviation accident was pilot error. Pilot error is the technical term describing a situation where the pilot’s inputs, or lack of appropriate inputs, made to the controls or systems of the aircraft were a causal factor, directly contributing to the mishap.

The investigating authorities also examined five other factors to determine if they contributed to the mishap: weather and environmental factors, procedures for low-altitude training, errors in maintenance paperwork, inexperience in mountainous environments, and the use of recording devices. It was determined that none of the five factors investigated were causal or contributing factors to the mishap. There are currently no recommendations for disciplinary or punitive action for any service members.

On March 18, 2022, the aircraft and aircrew departed from Bodø, Norway, on a training flight in support of Exercise Cold Response 2022. They returned to base for fuel without incident after conducting local-area familiarization flights and confined-area landings. After refueling, the aircrew departed on an approved flight plan in clear conditions to the south of Bodø. However, the aircrew and aircraft deviated from the preplanned and authorized flight and entered the Gråtådalen Valley at approximately 4:22 p.m. local. It is estimated the aircraft impacted the eastern side of the valley at approximately 4:23 p.m. local. The investigation evidentially concluded that the mishap was a result of a series of maneuvers conducted at a low altitude through the Gråtådalen Valley that exceeded the maximum angle-of-bank for an MV22B Osprey, which caused a loss of altitude, airspeed, and turning room from which the aircrew and aircraft were unable to recover. Specifically, analysis of the recovered aircraft data shows the aircraft, while maneuvering within the valley, made a left turn at 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. The Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization Manual states the limit for angle-of-bank in an MV-22B Osprey is 60 degrees. It is not known which pilot had control of the aircraft at the time.

The investigation concludes that weather conditions were met and appropriate for the authorized flight, the aircrew were qualified for the assigned mission, the aircraft was properly maintained and airworthy, risk-mitigation training and predeployment training requirements were met and often exceeded, and the mission was as necessary as any other that is assigned on a daily flight schedule across the Marine Corps.

The aircraft-salvage and environmental-cleanup efforts are complete. We are extremely thankful for the support provided by the Kingdom of Norway, including the Norwegian Armed Forces, Hoved Redning Sentralen, and civil authorities at the federal level and within the Nordland District. We are additionally grateful to our allies that contributed or offered various assets and people in the search-and-rescue efforts and extended their condolences. We are grateful for their efforts and professional commitment to long and enduring relationships.

You can view the command investigation here: https://www.hqmc.marines.mil/Agencies/USMC-FOIA/FRR/