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Sven van Roij
During the pandemic, television has been an unexpected source of comfort for many of us. Here in the UK, one of the most unlikely highlights of lockdown telly has been The Repair Shop, featuring craftspersons mending – with the utmost skill and dedication – cherished heirlooms placed in their care by members of the public. Just as the seemingly never-ending parade of teddy bears, toys and rocking horses has been buffed up, tweaked and sent back out for a further stint, so have many of the aircraft now gracing today’s skies, whether in the military or the commercial worlds.
Within a military context, for instance, a lot of fuss has always been made about new designs, be they rotary or fixed wing, fighter or bomber. However, across all domains, platforms are having their service lives extended and it is not uncommon for additional decades to be added to a design that many once considered best consigned to the annals of historic aviation. This is particularly the case for platforms not at the fast jet frontline, which have been spared, for the most part, from the critical glare searching out weaknesses in radar cross-sections. Sometimes a design is still ‘good enough’ to do a job, with scarce resources deemed best spent elsewhere.