Talks are taking place to decide the future of Doncaster’s iconic Vulcan bomber once her flying days are over.
XH558, which is based at Robin Hood Airport and which is the world’s only remaining flying Vulcan bomber, is scheduled to complete her final flying season this summer.
Now talks are underway to decide how best to utilise the Cold War aircraft when she is no longer airworthy.
Nottingham-based Focus Consultants have been working with owners Vulcan to the Sky Trust to undertake an appraisal to identify the best possible future for the plane, known as The Spirit of Great Britain.
The Vulcan was flown by the RAF for 33 years between 1960 and 1993.
Through fundraising and restoration work, widely believed to be the most complex technical heritage project ever undertaken, she was returned to flight in 2007 and has since performed in numerous air shows across the UK and Europe.
But for a range of technical reasons, the aircraft is coming towards the end of her flying life and VTTS Trust is keen to deliver continuing public benefits once she has stopped flying in the form of education and inspirational activities aimed at helping to solve the shortage of engineers and technical staff, currently a significant challenge for British businesses.
The Trust has been awarded £10,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to identify the most effective future role for the aircraft after she is grounded.
Focus has been working with the Trust to examine a range of options and Dr Robert Pleming, chief executive of the Vulcan to the Sky Trust said: “We are thrilled the Heritage Lottery Fund has recognised the potential of Vulcan XH558 to bring value to our economy and pleasure to the public even when she is no longer flying. We have been working with Focus to look at how XH558 can continue inspiring young people with the excitement of engineering and innovation, helping to solve the UK’s technical skills shortage.”
Associate at Focus, Heather Frecklington, said: “The Vulcan has incredible significance, as a powerful reminder of the knife-edge tension of the Cold War, an innovative engineering triumph and a symbol that continues to pull on the heart strings of the British public. It is essential that her revered position is maintained once she has been permanently grounded and is not lost for future generations. At Focus we are proud to be working with the Trust to identify an option that not only ensures her survival in outstanding condition, but also ensures she continues to inspire and benefit the public who have shown boundless support for her hitherto.”
The flying programme for 2015 is expected to be drawn up in the next few months and revealed in April.