Sunday 21 July 2013

Fifteen-year relationship celebrated as Vulcan returns to RIAT

Marshall and the Vulcan to the Sky Trust hail the 15th anniversary of a unique relationship that enabled the return of the spectacular Avro Vulcan to flight.


At the Royal International Air Tattoo this year, Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group and the Vulcan to the Sky Trust are celebrating the fifteenth anniversary of their first joint working meeting, on 30th June 1998, which resulted in the return of Avro Vulcan XH558 to flight in October 2007 following its retirement from RAF service in 1993.

The importance of Vulcan XH558 to British aviation and military history and the need to return this aircraft to flight was recognised in 2004 by the award of a major grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund towards the costs of her restoration to airworthiness.

 This highly costly restoration resulted in a major fundraising campaign and in addition to providing extensive technical support, Marshall stepped in with a significant financial commitment which allowed the project to continue to the successful first post-restoration flight on 18th October 2007. The credibility of the return-to-flight project relied on the reputation and proven capabilities of Marshall as the Engineering Authority, and the support of the British aerospace industry. 

Dr. Robert Pleming
Dr Robert Pleming, Chief Executive of the Vulcan to the Sky Trust, states: 
“I would like to place on record the grateful thanks of the Vulcan to the Sky Trust and all of XH558’s many thousands of supporters for the vital contribution of Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group to the return of XH558 to flight, and their on-going support in her subsequent operation. In particular, I would like to highlight the skills and expertise of the Marshall’s Aircraft Design Office in working on one-off aircraft projects, something that I believe is a uniquely valuable asset to the British aerospace industry.” 

Steve Fitz-Gerald
Steve Fitz-Gerald, Chief Executive of Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group, comments: 
“Marshall has an unrivalled international reputation for its work on a variety of aircraft, which today includes the C-130 Hercules, executive jets and a range of civil aircraft. The work which led to the return of this iconic aircraft to flight could not have been achieved without the depth of engineering support and skills, innovation, and experience of the Marshall Aircraft Design Office and our highly motivated workforce.”

XH558, the world’s last flying Avro Vulcan and the UK’s most popular heritage aircraft, is now expected to receive a vital airframe modification that will help to keep it airworthy until the end of 2015. It had been feared that Vulcan XH558 might be retired at the end of this year but, following extensive research, the Vulcan to the Sky Trust believes that the series of technical challenges that could have grounded her have been resolved.

“If fund-raising goes to plan, we should be able to release sufficient additional flying hours for XH558 to complete full display seasons in both 2014 and 2015, in addition to this year’s spectacular,” continues Dr Pleming.
“There are still many gateways to pass through, but we are sufficiently confident to begin the vital fundraising that will make this exciting extension to XH558’s flying life possible.”

 Dr Pleming says that by the end of 2015, the aircraft will have flown for around 80 hours more than the 250 hours anticipated during the award winning restoration in 2005-7. 
“That we will have been able to beat all our targets by a significant margin is a testament to the fantastic team work exemplified by the relationship between Marshall and the Vulcan to the Sky Trust,” he says. “XH558 is now enjoyed by around three million people every year – 50% more than two years ago – including children and young people who are inspired to learn more about engineering and aviation, hopefully to help fill the UK’s desperate technology skills gaps. We have packed tours of adults and young people at the hangar at Robin Hood Doncaster Sheffield Airport and we also support engineering training for local businesses.”

“When XH558 does finally touchdown for the last time,” he concludes, “it is hoped that she will form the heart of a new type of engineering inspiration, education and experience centre to inspire new generations of youngsters – think of an environment with the scale and ambition of the Eden Project with engineers and designers as heroes.”

More details are available at where readers can also find out where to see XH558 fly this year and sign-up for the latest Vulcan news. There is also a popular Facebook community, Vulcan XH558 and a Twitter feed @XH558

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