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Pentagon to lift ban on Osprey helicopter flights after fatal crash

The Pentagon will lift its ban on V-22 Osprey flights next week, after the helicopters were grounded last December after a fatal crash.

The news comes after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin held a high-level meeting and endorses the military’s plan for the helicopters to resume operations, The Associated Press reported.

In early December, the Air Force grounded its entire Osprey fleet after there was a fatal crash in Japan that killed eight U.S. service members. The operational grounding of about 400 aircraft was intended to “mitigate risk” while there was an investigation into the deadly crash.

Japan had repeatedly expressed concern with the hybrid aircraft after an initial crash near Okinawa happened in 2016. The most recent crash prompted a search and rescue mission, after the eight men aboard the flight were missing for days.

Officials said Friday that the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), which grounded the Osprey, will lift the ban and allow services to begin again. Floyd met with top leaders for the Navy and Air Force to discuss getting the Osprey in the air again, per the AP.

The NAVAIR has the ultimate say about ending the flight ban, but Austin reportedly asked for the meeting since there are significant safety concerns following multiple crashes and it involves a close ally with Japan.

Officials told the AP that while he doesn’t have authority to approve the decision, Austin’s endorsement is considered a key step in lifting the ban.

After the crash, two top military readiness lawmakers requested a review into the Osprey program. The Air Force conducted an investigation into the deadly Nov. 29 crash.

The Pentagon said last month that it believed it had identified the mechanical failure that led the Osprey to roll over mid-flight and catch fire in an engine before crashing into the water.

The Associated Press contributed.

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