In response to two deadly crashes within recent weeks, the commandant of the US Marine Corps announced an operational pause of all Marine aviation units for a period of 24 hours. During the reset, no aircraft operated by the US Marine Corps will take flight. The decision is not expected to impact any current “operational commitments.”
As reported by CNN, the operational pause applies to all aircraft including fixed-wing planes, tilt-rotors, and helicopters.
A statement from the US Marine Corps said, “Gen. Robert B. Neller, Commandant of the US Marine Corps, directed US Marine Corps aviation units to conduct an operational reset for a 24-hour period where no flight operations will take place, but no operational commitments will be impacted.”
Unit commanders do have some flexibility regarding when they will carry out the pause, being able to use their discretion during a two-week period to meet the commitment. This means not all US Marine Corps aircraft will have to be grounded at the same time.
This approach allows the Marines to use the time “to focus on the fundamentals of safe flight operations, standardization, and combat readiness.” In an effort “to bring awareness” and encourage “best practices to the fleet,” squadrons will be required to review specific incidents and various historical examples including the associated investigations.
The reset is in response to two recent aviation accidents suffered by the US Marine Corps. Last week, an MV-22 Osprey, a tilt-rotor aircraft, crashed off the coast of Australia, resulting in the deaths of three of the 26 Marines that were on board. In July, a KC-130T airplane crashed in Mississippi, causing the deaths of a Navy corpsman and 15 Marines.
“Pauses in operations are not uncommon and viewed as a responsible step to refresh and review best practices and procedures, so our units remain capable, safe, and ready,” said the US Marine Corps in a statement.
A statement released by Rep. Mac Thornberry, the Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said, “The Marine Corps’ decision to temporarily ground all aircraft is further, indisputable evidence that America’s military is in a readiness crisis, and that crisis is costing lives.”
Thornberry added, “Congress must act as soon as possible to provide our military with all of the resources they need to repair what can be fixed and replace what cannot be repaired.”