Last flying Avro Vulcan prepares for its final displays

The bomber will be undertaking two final flights on October 10 and 11

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The world’s last flying Avro Vulcan will take its final flights after a decision was made to permanently retire the Cold War veteran jet.

The bomber will take two final flights on October 10 and 11, flying loops of the country in a £75,000 tour of Britain.

Chief pilot Martin Withers, who captained the Vulcan XM607 on the famous Black Buck missions during the Falklands conflict, is preparing a route for the final flights, ensuring as many people as possible will see the jet.

One of the flights will head north from Nottingham while the second will cover large areas of south England.

The jet flew with the RAF until 1993. It underwent a drastic rebuild and flew again in October 2007.

The decision to retire the four-engine jet was made as the aircraft’s structure and systems are already more than 10 per cent beyond the flying hours of any other Vulcan, so knowing where to look for possible failures will become more difficult.

Maintaining her superb record also requires expertise that is increasingly difficult to find.

Andrew Epson, engineering director, said: “Our technical partners already bring specialists out of retirement specifically to work on XH558; a solution that is increasingly impractical for those businesses as the necessary skills become distant in their collective memories.”

“We have recently been made aware that the skills issue is particularly acute as our engines age and will require a considerable amount of additional (and costly) inspection and assessment.”

When the aircraft lands for the last time at the end of its Farewell to flight season, it will be used to educate young people in technical and aviation skills.

“XH558 is an iconic example of that remarkable period of intense post-war innovation that made British aviation technology the envy of the world,” said DrRobert Pleming Chief Executive at Vulcan to the Sky Trust.

“In her new life the XH558 will inspire and educate new generations of young people, helping to deliver the technical and aviation skills that Britain so badly needs.”

Dr Pleming confirmed there has been huge interest in the final public flights but has urged visitors not crowd Robin Hood Doncaster Sheffield Airport, where the aircraft will take-off and land, for fear of jeopardising the flights.

A heritage centre will also be created so enthusiasts can continue to visit the aircraft and learn about the engineering innovation and Cold War politics that brought it into existence.

XH558 will be maintained to a high standard and will still be able to thrill audiences with its famous Vulcan howl as it accelerates along the runway.

The Vulcan was first delivered to the RAF in 1956. Of the three V bombers produced, the Vulcan was considered the most technically advanced.

Comments