By Craig Hoyle at RAF Fairford

The backers behind a multi-million pound effort to return the Avro Vulcan bomber to the sky are taking part in this year’s RIAT show while issuing an unusual plea – to find £250,000 from public supporters or a potential business sponsor to advance the project to its next phase.

Time is running out for the Vulcan to the sky trust to meet a critical funding shortfall before its planned roll out of Vulcan XH558 in front of the media at Bruntingthorpe airfield on 31 August. A power-on milestone has been set for December, in a move which will take the aircraft one step closer to completing a remarkable comeback after conducted its last previous flight in 1993.

vulcan nose

The UK Ministry of Defence recently invited the team supporting XH558’s restoration to have the aircraft lead a flypast down the Mall in central London on 17 June 2007 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Falklands War; just weeks before next year’s RIAT show.

Some £2.8 million has already been spent in preparing the way for the Vulcan’s return to flight, with this drawn from a total of £4.5 million raised to date, including £1.4 million in voluntary contributions, £400,000 from original equipment manufacturers and £2.7 million from the national lottery. In addition to the £250,000 needed to achieve roll out on time, the trust is also looking for another £750,000 to get the aircraft airborne.

Recent work has included the completion of a major inspection of the airframe, with the aircraft now being reassembled, says engineering manager Andrew Edmonson. Despite the discovery and subsequent repair of small cracks in the aircraft’s main spar measuring up to ¾in, “The aircraft is in remarkable condition,” he says.

The trust has recruited and trained 20 engineers to work on the project within the last year, and also receives support from engineering personnel at Marshall Aerospace. It has received 6.5t of spare parts from original equipment manufacturers and some overhauled parts, including fuel systems from Goodrich, have been returned.

First flown in May 1960 and delivered on 1 July the same year, XH558 was one of 134 Vulcans built for the UK MoD and was the last of the type to fly. Another significant claim to fame for the platform was its starring role in the 1965 James Bond film ‘Thunderball’. Once placed on the civil register the aircraft will be grace the skies as G-VLCN.

Discussions continue with the UK Civil Aviation Authority to determine where the aircraft will be able to fly, but the trust expects the aircraft to operate at altitudes between 1,000-17,000ft, initially under tight restrictions. Its stock of eight Rolls-Royce Olympus engines will have a life of at least 200h each, which could be enough to enable the aircraft to operate for up to 14 years, says project director Robert Pleming.

Source: Flight International