Marine Corps considers temporarily grounding all aircraft after deadly crashes

PHOTO: A U.S. MV-22B Osprey aircraft takes off to begin a deployment to Australia in support of Marine Rotational Force - Darwin, from Marine Corps Base Hawaii, April 19, 2017. PlayCourtesy Aaron S. Patterson/U.S. Marine Corps/Handout via Reuters
WATCH Downed Osprey found off Australian coast

In the wake of two deadly aviation crashes in the last month, the Marine Corps is considering grounding all Marine fixed-wing and rotary aircraft for a day to reinforce proper procedures among pilots and air crews, according to a defense official.

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Lt. Gen. Steven R. Rudder, the Marine Corps' deputy commandant for aviation, is considering the move, which could be announced as early as today.

The defense official said the 24-hour stand-down would affect all Marine flying squadrons worldwide and would reinforce proper flight training procedures for Marine pilots and air crews.

The possibility of a grounding comes days after three Marines died when an MV-22 Osprey crashed into the water off the coast of Australia as it attempted to land on the amphibious USS Green Bay. Efforts to recover the remains of the three Marines continue; 23 other Marines aboard the Osprey, a tilt-rotor aircraft, were rescued.

On July 10, a Navy corpsman and 15 Marines were killed when a KC-130T transport aircraft crashed into a field in central Mississippi. Early indications are that the aircraft may have experienced problems at cruising altitude. As a protective measure, the Navy and Marine Corps grounded all 35 of their KC-130T aircraft until further notice while that crash is under investigation.

Safety stand-downs of particular Marine aircraft are not unusual.

Last August, the Marine Corps ordered a safety stand-down for all nondeployed F/A-18 fighter aircraft after a series of fatal crashes involving those planes.

At the time, squadron commanders were given seven days to carry out the 24-hour stand-down, which affected only nondeployed Marine aircraft.

Last September, all Marine AV-8 Harrier fighters in Japan were temporarily grounded after one of the aircraft crashed into the sea 100 miles off the coast of Japan. The pilot survived the crash.

The Marine Corps in recent years has experienced a decline in readiness of its aging fleet of aircraft. That has affected available training hours and the number of aircraft able to fly at any given time.