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Marine Corps helicopter makes ‘precautionary landing’ at Japanese airport

A UH-1Y Venom taxies into position after conducting night-time cold weather operations at Fort Drum, New York, March 17, 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Mackenzie Gibson)

No damage or injuries were reported after a U.S. military helicopter made an emergency landing Wednesday at an airport on the island of Kyushu, Marine Corps and Japanese officials said.

A UH-1Y Venom from Marine Corps Air Station Futenma’s 1st Marine Aircraft Wing made the “precautionary landing” at Kumamoto Airport at about 1:17 p.m., after a cockpit indication alerted pilots to a problem with the aircraft’s oil-cooling system, a Kyushu Defense Bureau spokesman said.

An AH-1Z Viper that was flying with the Venom also landed at the airport.

“The aircraft functioned as designed; the cockpit indicators informed the aircrew of the issue,” Marine spokeswoman Capt. Karoline Foote wrote in a statement to Stars and Stripes. “The aircrew performed as trained; they took the appropriate action in accordance with standard operating procedures to safely land the aircraft at the closest airport … We apologize for any concerns this may have caused in the local community.”

The aircraft were flying from Fukuoka to the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Kanoya Air Base in Kagoshima at the time of the incident, Japanese and Marine officials said. Kumamoto Airport is jointly operated with the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force.

The Marine helicopters were moved to the JGSDF’s side of the airport after landing and did not cause an interruption to airport operations, the Defense Bureau spokesman said. They were still there as of Thursday morning.

Japanese officials have asked the Marines on Okinawa to provide further details about the malfunction’s cause and to take thorough steps to ensure safety.

The precautionary landing appears to be the first in months, after three were reported in January alone, causing anxiety among locals on Okinawa and spurring the Japanese to take a more active role in ensuring U.S. military aircraft safety.

Stars and Stripes reporter Hana Kusumoto contributed to this report.


© 2018 the Stars and Stripes

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