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Tilt-Rotor Prototype in Accident at Test Site

August 20, 1992

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) _ A forerunner of the Marine Corps’ experimental tilt-rotor plane crash- landed today and flipped over at the end of a runway.

The pilot, Ron Erhart, 56, of Duncanville, and a passenger, Guy Dabadie, 48, of France, were in good condition at Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth, said hospital spokeswoman Nancy Foust. She did not describe their injuries.

Their plane, called an XV-15, came to rest upside down near a runway at the Arlington Municipal Airport, a few miles from the Bell Helicopter Textron plant where the aircraft was designed and built.

The XV-15 and V-22, also known as the Osprey, use two large propellers to take off and land like helicopters. They fly like airplanes by swiveling the propellers forward.

There have been two crashes of the larger V-22 aircraft, including one last month in Quantico, Va., that killed seven people. No one was hurt when a V-22 crashed in Delaware in June 1991.

The four remaining V-22 aircraft are grounded pending the investigation into last month’s crash.

The XV-15 was developed in the early 1970s by Bell, the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency and NASA to validate the concepts and technology of tilt-rotor aircraft.

The Marines want 500 V-22 aircraft to replace an aging fleet of helicopters, but have faced opposition from Pentagon critics who decry the program’s $30 billion cost.

Two XV-15 aircraft have been flying for about 10 years.

″They’ve got thousands of hours on them,″ said Nick Kernstock, spokesman at Boeing Helicopters in Ridley, Pa. Boeing is helping Bell develop the V-22.

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