The UK's Vulcan to the Sky Trust has secured an extension to the approved number of cycles for its restored Cold War bomber XH558. The move will enable the Vulcan to fly on until the end of its planned air show season in late September.

Trust officials warned last week that there was an "unresolved issue" with XH558's port main landing gear "and its approval to perform further flights". They cautioned that the aircraft could be withdrawn from planned show appearances over the weekend.

But following an inspection process supported by parties including Kearsley Airways, Vulcan engineering authority Marshall Aerospace and the UK Civil Aviation Authority, the aircraft was on 7 August granted an operating extension "sufficient to carry through the rest of the [current display] programme".

Vulcan XH558 climb - Sprucemoose 
© Sprucemoose gallery on

The decision enabled the trust to display XH558 - now registered as G-VLCN - at events at RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire, Whitehaven, Cumbria and Blackpool, Lancashire, over the following two days.

Project director Dr Robert Pleming says a complete overhaul of the aircraft's port landing gear is planned during the winter months, with this to effectively re-life the equipment. "We foresee no other issues on this matter," he says, adding: "The gear is in incredibly good condition, but it is around 30 years since it was manufactured."

 Vulcan XH558 lands - Sprucemoose
© Sprucemoose gallery on
Inspections were made to XH558's port main landing gear

The only flying example of the Avro Vulcan is now back at its temporary operating base at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, and is expected to make its next show appearances over Bournemouth, Dorset and Shoreham, West Sussex on 22-23 August. Its last display of the season is scheduled for Southport, Merseyside on 27 September.

Pleming says the trust receives around £33,000 ($54,000) a month in support through pledges from members of the public, and describes this as providing essential "breathing space" while it tries to attract companies to sponsor its activities.

Vulcan XH558 was temporarily grounded in early July after a delay in the process for renewing the trust's annual permit to fly. The CAA subsequently approved a three-month permit to run until 1 October, with this to allow delayed inspections to be conducted using Vulcan XH603, which has been stored outside for years at BAE Systems' Woodford site in Cheshire.

Pleming says work including bolt removals is under way on XH603 and that "so far it is going well".

XH558 will also undergo a minor service late this year, with the trust aiming to have its next permit to fly in hand around May 2010, before the next display season starts.

"The lessons are good, and we're getting increasingly high reliability on the aircraft," says Pleming. It recently conducted a sortie lasting over 3h. "The 'Vulcan effect' has been truly amazing wherever we've been this year," he adds.