View Full Version : Vulcan To Fly Again

23rd Dec 2003, 05:00
Todays Telegraph (Page 2) states:-
"The Heritage Lottery Fund is to provide £2.5 million towards the cost of restoring and returning to flight the giant Avro Vulcan,Britain's most popular military aircraft after the Spitfire.
It should enable the public to see the remarkable delta-wing plane in flight for the next 10 to 15 years.
The award goes against the fund's rules that support should not be given to projects that restore historic aircraft to flight, but was made because of the unique nature of the project.
The Vulcan is the last example of Britain's V-bomber force - Victor, Valiant and Vulcan - designed in the 1950s to carry nuclear bombs as a deterrent to Soviet attack "

Perhaps somebody has recognised , at last, that airshows are the second biggest spectator sport after football.

23rd Dec 2003, 16:06
Well.... I guess a few hats are going to be eaten when the cheque arrives.

I was one of the sceptics that believed it would not, could not happen.

I have seen the aircraft display - simply awesome - an earth tremoring experience. Can't wait!


Shaggy Sheep Driver
23rd Dec 2003, 19:11
How far will 2.5 million go towards getting the tin triangle flying again? If it requires a load more than that, and they can't raise the remaining funds, what happens to the 2.5 million? Do they have to pay it back?


23rd Dec 2003, 20:04
I agree with Sheep on this. £2.5M is not going to go a long way, cock this one up and all future ventures of this type, with any kind of funding, will flush straight down the kermit.

Having said that, I hope to God it does happen, I'd love to see a Vulc flying again.

26th Dec 2003, 17:51
Have to agree with you guys £2.5m is nothing as once they have the Vulc going how will they find pilots for it and how can they possibly maintain it at vast cost. I regularly see the guys at Southend at work and when you see the two pilots that do the fast taxis they appear to be well into their 60+. So very soon there will be no one that can operate the Vulcans.

The yardstick of any possible chance of sucess would have been Concordes survival as a flyer need I say more.

Mr Proachpoint
31st Dec 2003, 15:20
I'm sure there are a squadzillion pilots out there who could safely (and spectacularly) operate and display the Vulcan.
Don't worry too much about that, lets find the coin first and then worry about the crew.


31st Dec 2003, 16:26
Just out of interest, how many hours on type did the first pilot to display the Vulcan at Farnborough have?

31st Dec 2003, 21:17
Seasonal greetings; I do not know what sort of flight regulations the New Zealand CAA or its equiv have, but the UK CAA are rigid on such things and without pilots that have adequate qualifications the Vulcan is never likely to fly again.

It is not relevant even if the finance were to be forthcoming it would be almost impossible that this aircraft would ever fly again. There is just no way that pilots could be sourced or trained and then be in situ to enable recency to be complied with.

What is interesting with this thread is a for warning that maybe we should be looking to preserve and keep flying a Nimrod in the near future. With adequate planning and financial provision this would be a worthy challenge.

31st Dec 2003, 22:30

I have a £ that says you are wrong about the Vulcan flying :ok:

2nd Jan 2004, 15:09
You would be very welcome to £1 if it could only happen, I think my £1 is safe. Rgds

2nd Jan 2004, 16:55

its a bet then

(from a Vulcan fan who is alos a realist - see previous threads - and who thinks the TVOC management and thier veiled threats suck)

Cosmic Wind
3rd Jan 2004, 03:55
Can't help feeling that this still won't happen. Don't want to be a doom mongerer but I'm not altogether happy with a bit of military kit of this nature flying around in civvie hands. Think that the Brunty Comet is a far more sensible and more worthy benefactor of this level of support.

3rd Jan 2004, 04:52

While pilots are quite important in aviation, it's always a long queue to take the seat - finding one does not normally seem to be a problem. While I take the point that qualified / qualifiable pilots might be a problem, I can't think of an aircraft that has been grounded or unable to return to flight for the lack of qualified drivers.

The Vulcan, and almost all other restorations, face a long list of challenges (and I hope they suceed, but it's going to be a trick) least of which is 'what colour scheme' and 'who's at the pole' - the two questions which seem to bother us all. How to fuel, maintain, engineer, turn round, base, recharge, hanger etc etc etc is rather more important, and rarely discussed!

So - given the qualified and knowledgeable people here - which a/c are grounded ONLY because of lack of qualified pilots?

I think of exceptions like the Granger Archaeopterix and Pou de Ciel at Old Warden (type certification issues) and Bucc and Lightning (flying in SA due to UK CAA restrictions - but the CAA might be persuaded - we don't know as a working op with these types was never really together in the UK) On the other hand, the Short Sunderland was flown in the UK despite a lack of a long queue of wetplane drivers...


(The ferociously unqualified!)

3rd Jan 2004, 05:13
There are a few redundant Concorde crews around at the mo, after all its a large multi crew jet delta, just a thought !

3rd Jan 2004, 07:01
HZ et al - Don't muddy the waters by dragging in the question of pilot availability/currency. The CAA have been in on the ground floor and this question will have been addressed. There are sufficient numbers of Vulcan ex-display pilots out there to generate at least the core of a training programme. The ac is not difficult to fly, and has few vices if you follow the rules.

Display flying it is not difficult and there are no unique techniques required to fly the sequence.

The first step is now in place to get this magnificent ac back in the air. Projects like this, once they get positively started, tend to gain a momentum of their own; it won't be long before corporate sponsorship starts to appear. For such a unique ac and a crowd puller at airshows, the bigger companies will be willing to attach their names to the project.

We're not out of the woods yet, and there is some way to go. But it would be good if we could keep the doom and gloom mongering out of the equation and make lots of positive noises - they need our support.

3rd Jan 2004, 16:42
Well, I for one sincerely hope that any display flown by the TVOC Vulcan will be considerably gentler and more graceful than some of the last VDF efforts! Those stupid wing-rocks in the climb just showed off considerable adverse yaw and always made me wince at the stress reversal cycles they induced... Similarly, extreme low speed steep turns followed by brisk rolling manoeuvres don't look right and are close to the edge of the envelope.

Nope, let's have a full power take-off, a gentle rotation to a 20 deg nose-up climb, then some wing-overs and 45 deg steep turns - but at a reasonable speed, not ultra-slow! All flown with smooth precision and designed to flow from one manoeuvre to the next. And at a height where people can actually see the aircraft.

But first it's got to be made airworthy.....

5th Jan 2004, 16:02
Let's not get too carried away here folks.
The £2.5m has only been ring-fenced, there is still a long way to go to actually get the money from HLF.

Does anyone have an idea of how long we now have
to raise the extra cash in order for the money to be released?

I wouldn't be at all suprised if the HLF have set a tight deadline, after which the money will go elsewhere.

Once the money has been released, the biggest hurdles remain, making her airworthy and obtaining the magical Permit to Fly.

6th Jan 2004, 05:07

My quid's with you.

And, if that 'public' money was to be made available, let's spread it about over more numerous types so that, arguably, it would offer a wider interest and extend the airshow flying programme at any given event.

Nice memories; but if it's only going to do a max power, 20 degree climb, followed by a gentle 45 degree wingover, I'd spend my two million (and more!) on something more attention-grabbing. A big slice of our aviation history - yes. But Harrier will be, and Bucc/Lightning and others of significance also were - and what of them?

All your money in one basket ---------

6th Jan 2004, 17:51
There aint much more attention grabbing than a trumpeting Vulcan in full chat blasting skywards!! And even when performing lazy 360s and wing overs , its still big enough to present an awesome sight.

Agree though, would much rather see money distributed around other projects - think this has been raised in a similar thread elsewhere.

We already know that the CAA just wont look at an afterburning manned rocket ship on the civvy reg, but a 50 ton former nuclear bomber- sure no problem!
Did anyone seriously push for a Bucc to fly again? I know that Classic Jets had the foxhunter research bird at Exeter but did the project get any backing or support? I believe they gave up when the lightnings werent going anywhere and it was left to rot until it was painted in a stupid paint scheme.
I was absolutely gobsmacked when the Vixen got the green light and even that has now been reduced to a pathetic advertising circus act.

If the Vulcan does fly again how about a proper paint job for that as well!?

7th Jan 2004, 07:45
Vulcan Mk2 to Fly Again

Great to hear.
From someone who has lots of time in both Mk1s and 2s I hope someone with experience gets to sit in the left seat.

Was a TP at Boscombe Down in the late 50s and became Chief of Flight Test on Vulcans for a year +. Mostly Mk 1s doing weapon carriage and release trials with some handling and NBS systems as well.

Flew 90+ types including F-111 and the Vulcan became one of my favourites. Flew the other Vs also but preferred Vulcan to Victor.

Service clearance for Vulcan Mk1 was to Mach 0.98 and 380 Kts IAS but we flew them out to 415 Kts max. At Mach 0.98 there was not much up elevator left due to increasing nose down pitch above Mach 0.88.

Am now aged 77 but could readily climb back into a Vulcan and call my abbreviated check list before brakes release "Fuel, Noise, Let's Go."

Just loved flying the Vulcan and most aerobatics not involving negative g were readily executed as good rates of roll available and stick forces nicely harmonised to a fighter type stick.

Survived an airborne failure of a main wing spar in a Valiant so very sensitive to structural strengths in aircraft. No problems anticipated with low g display manoeuvres with the surviving Vulcan.

9th Jan 2004, 02:03
Quote from hairyclameater

"Did anyone seriously push for a Bucc to fly again?"

Well HHA up at Scampton are trying to get a Bucc flying in the Uk again.

They have XX885 and have put it on the civil register as G-HHAA.

The project is going well but nothing is certain yet.

9th Jan 2004, 19:42
Thats great to know about the HHA efforts but that appears to be a low key, long term project, i.e. little publicity like the Vulcan crowd. Have'nt seen anything mentioned on the 'show circuit or via web sites, spam flyers to web -zines, that kinda thing. I'm sure we would all like to see a brick flying again - but if you dont know 'bout it, you cant help!

Great memories of the last Bucc to leave the UK - XW986 from Kemble


9th Jan 2004, 20:07
It's a rather different situation to the Vulcan - not nearly as expensive, and my impression is the CAA are much more receptive to the idea (as two Buccs have already flown for test/ferry flights in civilians hands albeit only briefly before being exported to SA).

I'm sure if HHA were running into the sort of problems with approval and finance that the Vulcan guys had, they'd be asking for help but at the moment they just seem to be quietly getting on with it and making good progress.

They would appreciate leads on additional spares - particularly wheels and engines - though, as you can never have enough!

9th Jan 2004, 20:41
The pessimists who say that the Vulcan will never fly again quote ‘the complexity of the aircraft’. Sure, it was complex when it was in front-line service, but to fly at air displays?

What systems could be disabled, removed, capped off, whatever and thus simplify the whole exercise. Presumably the pressurisation and conditioning system won’t ever be needed again - there goes a half ton of bleed valves and piping. And with no pressurisation then door seals etc, with half perished rubber, aren’t critical. Apart from an Intercomm and VHF no ‘avionics’ are needed – GPS will get the aircraft anywhere it needs to be.

There’s no reason to carry rear crew members, and both pilots would, presumably, have serviceable ejector seats. The alternators and DC can be brought on line by the crew chief after start so there’s no reason for anyone at the AEO’s station. No further activity needed from there - or am I wrong on this one?

Landing gear? I wouldn’t have thought this was beyond full scale maintenance today. I doubt if the required O rings and seals have changed much.

So, apart from engines and engine driven accessories which I believe are a’plenty, what other ‘major’ items does this leave.

I’d imagine that the PFCU’s (Powered Flying Control Units) are the problem. These are unique to the Vulcan, manufactured, I think, by Boulton Paul – no longer around.

Is there anyone there who could give a thumb nail sketch of what the master plan might be?

11th Jan 2004, 04:42
forget, I'm afraid your assertion, although a good idea, is just a bit too simplistic. Yes, there are many systems and bits of kit that would not be needed. However, to decide the kit to 'decommission', there would have to be considerable thought given to the possible deployment patterns for the future. For example, if there was the need to fly the jet in the airways structure, there would have to be the legal minimum of nav kit installed/serviced. You can't just buy a hand-held GPS and fly the Atlantic (and why not, if the US display organisers will pay!).

Similarly, the heat fatigue associated with high summer temperatures, combined with the stress of flying a display (or several in the day), would make the conditioning system essential rather than desirable. As for flying without an AEO - no sane Vulcan pilot would even start the thing without him at the panel. You must remember that the ac flew over 150% of its design life, and as such there were increasing electrical/hot air incidents not covered by the books. Latterly, many an AEO had to pour over the 'Red Book' to solve an odd fault. No, the Vulcan was designed for a full crew - not enough automation and switchery at the front to make a pilot-only operation safe. [Modern airliners are specifically designed for such ops].

I'm sure the Vulcan team will work out what not to service to keep costs/workload to a minimum. You sound optimistic about the project - good. We need more people like you with your positive frame of mind.

Regards, FJJP

11th Jan 2004, 19:23
Slightly aside, but the Trident (LHR On this thread) has had a satisfactory sum spent on it by various companies including BA and was maintained for towing and ground training. However, one of the reasons for its demise is its undercarriage problems that even after replacement only some 4 years ago has been declared unsafe and is another reason for its removal.

I would be interested to know just what sort of issues the Southend Vulcan has with regard to undercarriage testing as all these problems soon mount up and despite what some brothers have stated parts and spares are not easy to come by even if you can find anyone skilled enough to make them.

11th Jan 2004, 19:43
First, to the guys and gals at Bruntingthorpe, I hope you don’t mind a third party discussion on the engineering plans for your Baby. Apologies ahead, if so…….

Thanks FJJP, but my post was intended to be simplistic; it ended by asking if there was anyone there with a thumb nail sketch of what the master plan (in redundant systems removal) might be?

I’m pretty much aware of what minimum kit is needed to put air under the wheels, but I think you’re missing a fundamental point between a front line Vulcan and XH558.

Take the electrics. A front line Vulcan needed an enormous amount of electrical power with every piece of generation running close to 100%. As a result, reliability wasn’t good. Now remove the Nav Bombing System, Electronic Counter Measures etc, from the equation, already done, and the generation systems will operate at no more than gentle idle. Reliability will rocket – but to where, we don’t know. (It would be interesting to know the electrical serviceability record of 558 during its display days versus front line. I’ll bet there was a huge improvement even over that short period.)

As to your point that you can't just buy a hand-held GPS and fly the Atlantic, there are people doing just that as I write, not in a four jet perhaps, but happily getting from A to B. In any case, I can’t see 558 going to the US. It’s being paid for with ‘non private’ funds and to send it westbound would be like sending the Tate to Times Square.

You say there’s not enough automation and switchery at the front to make a pilot-only operation safe, modern airliners are specifically designed for such ops.

Now we’re getting somewhere near the point I was trying to suggest. There’s already automatic load shedding in the electrics and, given the highly simplified electrical management of a display aircraft over a front line job, I still say there’s (probably) no need for an AEO, and certainly not a Nav Radar or Nav Plotter. Move the minimum number of switches now required to the co-pilots position, together with a modern digital status panel, replacing half a dozen steam driven dials.

You say you’re sure the Vulcan team will work out what not to service to keep costs/workload to a minimum.

I suspect this is the very point which started my train of thought. The difference between military and civil aviation thinking (and systems) is huge. Trust me, I’ve been in both camps. In one scary leap I went from servicing Vulcans with, at that time, a ten channel plug in crystal controlled Glide Slope receiver, to Triplex Autoland Tridents. The difference astonished me. There was me thinking I was moving from the sharp end of the latest technology into the backward civvy world. Wrong! Mind you, horses for courses, the Vulcan made a much better bomber than the Trident.

One (simplified) suggestion I’d make to Bruntingthorpe is this. Take on board a couple of volunteer electricians licensed on 737/757 etc. Their task, to look into low reliability Vulcan electrical parts, everything from contactors to TRU’s, and determine which of these could be replaced by current Boeing Part Number equivalents. Replacement being mainly through adapter cables/connectors, not necessarily a rewire. This would eliminate, for these parts, reliance on old steam driven dusty spares and, instead, move 558 into the huge civil parts pool. ( Comments Blacksheep?)

As to the luxury of air conditioning. When I were a lad (as were Vulcan aircrew) in Bahrein, Singapore, Darwin………….

Must go, it’s Sunday and the Memsahib’s cranky.

Shaggy Sheep Driver
11th Jan 2004, 19:52
Hmmm. Isolating redundant systems is one thing, but moving switchery and replacing instrumentation is surely something else. The CAA may grant flight status to the aeroplane as operated for many years by the RAF, but may take the view that such modifications constitute unknown territory both technically and operartionally.


12th Jan 2004, 06:22
Let me give a small example of Mods that would ease the way. The retired Vulcans were delivered to their civvy owners with the early 50’s design Intercomm boxes fitted, and I’ll bet money that 558 still has the originals. They had one valve (US Toob) inside. Now Intercomm boxes, if they work at all, won’t get any attention from the ‘get it flying crew’. But Intercomm will be an unofficial MEL No-Go item. You try and find a new Toob when the Intercomm goes down half way through a display tour. You won’t do it. Now’s the time to fit a modern, but not too modern, Intercomm and new wiring. Cost of (used) parts, £700 should do it. Guaranteed availability of spares - a telephone call away. And I may even volunteer to do the mod and install drawings for free.

12th Jan 2004, 06:33
forget, I take your point. However, the need for an AEO is, from my experience, absolute. For example, at an overseas base, we got airborne and a snag appeared. The first time the symptoms appeared we took action iaw the checklist, but that did not cure the fault. My highly experienced AEO diagnosed a cable fault as being the most likely explanation. This was po-poo'd by the engineers. Bits were replaced and the thing recurred once airborne again. AEO went through the red book with engineers trying to convince them that he was most likely right. Again ignored and more bits fitted. Failed again - that left only the loom to be replaced. When the new loom + lecky arrived and started work, they soon found that the original cable was virtually dust - it was one of those components that was lifed to the aircraft life, therefore never examined, serviced or replaced; and with the aircraft flown to over 150% of its planned life....

The CAA would probably have no difficulty with some modern kit being installed, provided it was done by BAe and they were fully involved throughout the design and installation. I will accept that you could probably get away without the navs; however, for reasons above - definitely not without the AEO...

As for the air conditioning, what was the figure at Akrotiri in summer? Airborne within 30 mins of cooler out or scrub??!! (It was 10 mins in Canberras). Temps in a hot-soaked cockpit measured at over 130 deg F. I rest my case!