A one-off, final flight is among the options being considered
Avro Vulcan B.2 XH558 is being prepared for a move away from Doncaster Sheffield Airport (DSA), scheduled for June 2023 – and the team hasn’t ruled out the possibility of flying the iconic machine out.
The Vulcan to the Sky Trust (VTST), the charity behind the restoration and return to flight of XH558, have been renting space on the airfield from DSA for the aircraft following an unsuccessful fundraising campaign to build a new permanent home for the Vulcan. John Sharman, chair of trustees at the VTST said: “We were extremely sad to hear the news regarding the strategic review of DSA and our thoughts are with the staff there who will no doubt be concerned about their futures.
“Our current agreement for parking our aircraft at DSA, together with access for our staff, volunteers, and visitors, runs until June 2023 and prior to the news about the future of DSA we had been told that the agreement would not be renewed and therefore would have to leave the site at that time. This is a blow to the Trust and will be very sad news for our supporters, but for some months we have been exploring options for XH558 to leave Doncaster.”
XH558 flew into the airport in March 2011 and, for a number of years, millions of supporters were able to see and hear the might V-bomber fly at airshows and other events. John added: “Since the aircraft was grounded in 2015, we’ve been working to build her the type of home that befits such an iconic piece of aviation history. Sadly, our latest fundraising appeal didn’t bring in the money needed to build a hangar. We are working on two potential sites where we know we can protect her for decades to come and deliver on Robert Pleming’s vision of telling the Cold War story and the role of the V-Force and inspiring youngsters to pursue meaningful and productive careers in engineering. The relocation will bring significant challenges but outcomes we believe the VTST can deliver.”
VTST is currently exploring a number of options for a new home for XH558 ranging from investigating the possibility of a short ferry flight to enable the aircraft to get to a new location intact, or to dismantle and rebuild it in a dedicated permanent home.
John explained: “The option for a one-off flight demonstrates that VTST are exploring every option. We were always told that we would not get approval for her to fly again by the CAA, however, we are now in discussion with them to explore any potential way forward – if this might be an option, it’s not one that we can ignore.
“The alternative is to dismantle the aircraft and move it to a proposed home and we have two potential locations in negotiation. While we acknowledge that it would be extremely sad to dismantle XH558 it would mean that ultimately, she will be preserved and will still be able to inform, educate and inspire future generations of engineers. As soon as a decision has been made, we’ll be able to put the wheels in motion and we’ll keep our supporters updated throughout this process.”
UPDATE - 1600hrs, August 15, 2022
With much speculation surrounding the possible location XH558 may end up, the Yorkshire Air Museum at Elvington near York has released the following statement:
"Although normal service here will not be resumed until tomorrow, we thought it important to clarify something, in response to a post by the Vulcan To the Sky team at Doncaster Airport. They have suggested the aircraft may be on the move to a new home, within a certain radius of its current base. YAM would like to make it clear that this does NOT mean it is coming here. It's a question we get asked a lot, and we see discussions online, (that seldom involve us) and even petitions, that suggest it's heading to YAM. It is not. For a whole range of reasons that are too complex for a simple social media post (including the fact that we are a separate entity entirely to the airfield next door), we will play no part in the future of this aircraft. That does not mean we are not passionate about aircraft preservation, far from it, but this is the reality."