LONDON – In August, AviationSource reported on what was the end of an era, when it was announced that the iconic Avro Vulcan reg XH558 was to be moved from its resting place at the Doncaster Sheffield Airport.
Vulcan XH558, which has been a part of a fleet that played a vital role during the Falklands War in 1982, has been stored at Doncaster International Airport since March 2011 when it was flown into the airport.
Overseen by the Vulcan to the Sky Trust, the group believed that the old RAF Finningley base would become the iconic bird’s permanent home. A failed funding appeal, and the recent closure of Doncaster Sheffield Airport has meant that the charity sadly had to put an end to that plan.
The Trust begrudgingly announced in August that the lease on the hangar facility would not be renewed and they had been exploring potential options for rehousing of the Vulcan.
Repositioning flight by XH558 considered
In assessing plans for both a new home and the logistics of the aircraft relocation, even a short repositioning flight by Vulcan XH558 was considered.
In their progress update this week, the charity states: “Clearly, as the sites will be away from Doncaster, this relocation will bring significant challenges but outcomes we believe the VTST can deliver. We talked to the CAA about the possibility of a short ferry flight for XH558 but we now believe that this is not possible.”
“The advice was that legally, we would need to appoint a Design Authority to assess and then oversee the restoration to flight work and without a DA, no application could be considered. We have approached three companies to look at feasibility, timeline and costs and, to date, one has declined to support and the other two organisations have not responded to contract for this work.”
“Informal research has also indicated that insurance for such a flight would be prohibitively expensive. While we acknowledge that it is extremely sad to dismantle XH558 it will mean that ultimately, she will be preserved and will still be able to inform, educate and inspire future generations of engineers.”
“The process will be handled by professional, experienced partners who are sympathetic to our aims and understand the significance of this work, all with the intention of retaining as much functionality as possible.”
Two potential locations under consideration
The Trust says that they are in negotiation with two potential new locations for the Avro Vulcan, and are also in conversation with The National Heritage Lottery Fund on an options appraisal to ensure they secure the best future for what is effectively an important heritage asset; aligning their aims with the original Heritage Fund contract.
Potentially placed as a static display, the Trust says that they will “once again be able to offer the opportunity to be close to XH558 in an exciting, undercover facility that her thousands of supporters can enjoy.”
With respect to the plans for the immediate future, the Trust says: “Between now and the end of June 2023, we are investigating what access we can offer to supporters given we understand the airfield will be closed from mid-November.”
“We have asked for clarification from DSAL and are awaiting their feedback. Many supporters have their names or those of their loved ones under the wing of Avro Vulcan XH558 and clearly want to see them in place.”
You can visit the Vulcan to the Sky Trust website to purchase merchandise and to make a donation to assist this important preservation project.