Naha, Okinawa Pref., Sept. 24 (Jiji Press)–Japanese authorities accused on Tuesday the pilot of a U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey that crashed off Okinawa Prefecture, southern Japan, in December 2016 of violating Japan’s law related to aviation safety.
The Japan Coast Guard’s 11th regional headquarters, based in the Okinawa capital of Naha, sent public prosecutors papers on the pilot the same day without identifying the name, affiliation and other details of the suspect.
The JCG was unable to receive support from the U.S. military under the Japan-U.S. status of forces agreement, sources familiar with the situation said.
In the accident, which occurred on Dec. 31, 2016, the Osprey, which belonged to the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma air base in the Okinawa city of Ginowan, crashed in shallow waters off Nago, another Okinawa city. Two of the five crew members were injured.
According to the JCG regional headquarters, the pilot is suspected of having failed to maintain appropriate speed when carrying out an aerial refueling mission.
The pilot allegedly brought the Osprey’s propeller into contact with the fueling equipment of an air tanker, destroying the tilt-rotor transport aircraft.
Regarding the accident as Class A, the most serious in its four-level flight accident assessment system, the U.S. military submitted its investigation report to Japan’s Defense Ministry in September 2017.
The report said that the Osprey accelerated excessively, made contact with the fueling hose of the air tanker and performed an emergency landing in shallow waters.
During its investigation, the JCG’s regional headquarters sought cooperation from the U.S. military and asked for interviews with the pilot and others. Under the bilateral status of forces agreement, Japan needs consent from the U.S. side to investigate accidents caused by U.S. military personnel during their duties.
But the U.S. side did not respond to the request from the JCG, according to the sources.