An MV-22 Osprey’s precautionary landing Wednesday night at the Holly Shelter Game Land in Pender County caused a small brush fire, according to Cherry Point Air Station officials.
The four-member crew, assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Training Squadron 204 at New River Air Station, was conducting low altitude training along a designated flight route when the aircraft experienced engine failure due to low fuel conditions, according to a press release from Cherry Point, where the 2nd Marine Air Wing is headquartered.
The pilot, whose name will not be released, made the precautionary landing in a nearby field. No one was injured.
After a fuel cell boost, the aircraft successfully restarted but the grass around the aircraft caught fire from the engine’s heat exhaust, according to the release.
“The exhaust … was hot enough to start a little bit of a brush fire with the grass in the surrounding area,” said Cherry Point spokesman Maj. Aisha Bakkar. “They got the fire out in a timely fashion. It just appears there was some superficial damage to the aircraft so that’s what they have to determine: Was it just cosmetic or was it anything significant before they put the aircraft back in the air again.”
Once the damage is assessed, a decision on how to return the Osprey, which is worth $64.9 million, to New River Air Station will be made.
“Precautionary landings are done occasionally,” Bakkar said. “Typically, they are done at airfields. Really, they’re completely controlled landings. Anytime you get a warning light of any kind, typically as a precautionary measure just to err on the side of safety more than anything else, the pilots will often choose to make a precautionary landing rather than complete a flight mission just to assess the situation.”