Next year will be the last time to see Britain’s only flying Cold War Vulcan bomber fly as the aircraft is being grounded in part due to soaring restoration costs according to reports in the Daily Mail, This is Lincolnshire and several other papers (the official press release is here). Since its restoration back in 2007, Vulcan XH558 has been seen by more than ten million people in over 60 different locations while three million alone turned out to see her during the 2012 Diamond Jubilee season.
However, the Vulcan XH558 had also been given a technically determined number of flying hours that will be exhausted next year with the Yorkshire Post noting that it already costs an estimated £2m a year to keep the aircraft airborne and that it will need another £200,000 improvement in 2013. Hence, Vulcan to the Sky Trust has decided not to ask its contributors to take the risk of funding another expensive restoration.
Likewise, Engineering director Andrew Edmondso also told in the Harborough Mail that when suppliers close or lose the ability to remanufacture or refurbish key components, it can be prohibitively expensive to re-source them and that:
We know, for example, that the set-up costs to remanufacture a main wheel are more than £70,000. If the approved engineering drawings are no longer available, it can be practically impossible given any amount of money.
Moreover and from the start of the 2014 season, it would be unlikely that the charity could accommodate any engine failures plus the aircraft’s set of engines would be out of life with no more airworthy engines available while refurbishment would be both difficult and costly.
No word on when or where Vulcan XH558’s last flight will be plus the Vulcan to the Sky Trust still needs to raise £400,000 within months to fund its winter service. In the mean time, check out the following videos of the Vulcan XH558 in action: