Final season announced for last flying Vulcan


All-Blacks Supporter
Final season announced for last flying Vulcan

Vulcan to the Sky Trust prepares to make 2013 a spectacular final flying season

but £400,000 needs to be raised within months to fund winter service

Vulcan to the Sky Trust, the charity that operates the last flying Vulcan bomber, today told its supporters that it is planning for 2013 to be the much-loved aircraft’s final flying season. Following an award-winning restoration that many feel is the most technically complex ever undertaken, Vulcan XH558 was granted a technically-determined number of flying hours. At the end of next year’s display season, six years after the return-to-flight, XH558’s current cleared flying life will have been almost completely consumed.
Since the restoration in 2007, Vulcan XH558 has been seenby more than ten million people at over 60 locations, with a remarkable three million turning out to see her during the 2012 Diamond Jubilee season. Through school visits and other educational projects, she has helped to inspire new generations to enter careers in engineering and aviation.
Trust chief executive Dr. Robert Pleming explained the decision to supporters: “We are sure you are aware that all Vulcans have a finite safe flying life and that XH558 is already well beyond the hours flown by any other aircraft of her type,” he wrote. “At the end of next year, she will need a £200,000 modification to her wings to increase her flying life. We know that you would do your upmost to fund this work, but for a number of reasons we have decided not to ask you to take this risk.”
The decision is based on a combination of factors. First is the challenging wing modification, as engineering director Andrew Edmondson explains: “It is a demanding procedure that can no longer call upon the original manufacturing jigs and there is no possibility of rectification if an error is made. We are not saying we cannot do it, just that it is risky so other factors must be taken into account.”
Top of the list is the limited life of XH558’s engines. “From the start of the 2014 season, it is unlikely that we could accommodate any engine failures and that even without any technical problems, soon our set of engines would be out of life,” says Edmondson. “There are no more airworthy engines available, and refurbishment would be so difficult and costly that there is no possibility that it will happen.”
There are also challenges with other areas of the aircraft as every component, however small, was designed and manufactured to agreed specifications by approved suppliers. “When those suppliers close or lose the ability to remanufacture or refurbish those components, it can be prohibitively expensive to re-source them,” explains Edmondson. “We know, for example, that the set-up costs to remanufacture a main wheel are more than £70,000. If the approved engineering drawings are no longer available, it can be practically impossible given any amount of money.”
Dr. Pleming concluded; “It is therefore with great sadness that we have told XH558’s supporters that we are planning for next year to be the last opportunity anyone will have, anywhere in the world, to see a Vulcan in the air. I’d like to thank everyone who by the end of 2013 will have contributed to achieving six fantastic years of Vulcan displays since the restoration; it’s a remarkable achievement that many people said would be impossible. With the passionate and generous support of the British people, we returned an all-British icon to the sky and brought the excitement of engineering and aviation to new generations.”
The Vulcan to the Sky Trust’s aspiration is that when XH558’s flying life is over, she will become the centrepiece of a new project that will inspire and train young people, helping to solve the UK’s significant shortfall in the number of talented new candidates entering technical careers. “XH558 will be maintained in excellent running order and will continue to delight her supporters with fast taxi runs while developing further her role in education as the centrepiece of an exciting new type of inspirational engineering education centre,” added Trust director Michael Trotter.
XH558 End-of-Flight Explained, a colour cutaway of the aircraft with explanations of the different technical challenges, can be viewed at

Help ensure a Spectacular Final Flying Season
This year, the Diamond Jubilee of the Vulcan aircraft type, has been a remarkable one for XH558. She has delivered displays that have been acclaimed as amongst her best ever, she’s opened and closed one of the world’s greatest airshows, flown with The Red Arrows, honoured Cold War airmen, taken part in the dedication of a memorial to the heroes of the Falklands conflict (in which Vulcan XM607 played a famously heroic role) and reportedly made Her Majesty The Queen smile during a flypast to celebrate Her Diamond Jubilee.
“We are now planning one final, spectacular season,” says Dr. Pleming. “And we need everyone’s support this autumn to help us get there. We have to raise £400,000 before the end of this year to ensure that XH558 can be serviced and safely returned to the air in time for the first airshows of the 2013 season.”
Readers supporting the winter service can chose to fly their name on the aircraft and can also receive an original Avro Vulcan component in its historic packaging. More information on how to support XH558, where to see her and the progress of the service is available on the Trust’s website and in their newsletter. There is also a passionate Vulcan XH558 Facebook community, packed with information and outstanding photography.
I remember so clearly seeing Vulcans in Service, beautiful aeroplane. On Salisbury Plain in 1967 there was a firepower demonstration including everything from GPMG's, field guns, mortars, tanks and among other kit, aircraft, one of which was a Vulcan that flew over our heads with her bomb doors open showing her massive bomb bay packed with ordnance. She approached the target which was a mock convoy of old trucks, busses, cars, Land Rovers fire trucks etc and dropped her load of parachute delayed bombs. All of a sudden the convoy of old vehicles simply disappeared in clouds of dust and vehicle parts.

Wonderful memories.

Its a pity that XH558 cannot fly forever, she is an important part of not only RAF history, but British history.