Just an hour ago, the Vulcan to the Sky Trust announced that due to a leaking fuel tank, their Avro Vulcan, XH588 has been grounded for the remainder of the 2013 air show season.
The plane which had been leaking fuel from its number 5 tank, was checked out by aviation specialists, FTP Industries in Portsmouth, UK. It was discovered that the tank was leaking from multiple locations and the overall levels of deterioration elsewhere within, made patching up the old tank up a non-starter.
In their statement issued earlier today the Vulcan to the Sky Trust said: “Given that more than one leak and other signs of deterioration were found, and that the tank is itself over 30 years old, we have concluded that, if repaired, the tank would remain vulnerable to further leaks.
We have therefore decided that repair of the tank would not prove economical and, if reinstalled on the aircraft, could prove to be unreliable. There is no airworthy spare available; we have accordingly commissioned a new tank to be manufactured immediately.
With an estimated 16 week lead time for manufacture, we are very sorry to announce that it will not be possible to return the aircraft to flight again in 2013. XH558 has therefore sadly made her last public appearance this year.”
Fortunately for the Vulcan to the Sky Trust and aviation enthusiasts, this grounding has occurred late in the season with the plane only scheduled to make a couple of appearances, at the Southport Air Show in Southport, UK and FlightFest in Dublin, Ireland. While it certainly will come as a blow to those individual air shows, a grounding such as this earlier in the season would have seriously impacted the ability of the trust to keep XH558 flying as it would have cut off the revenue the trust collects for showing the Cold War bomber, and would put the Vulcan to the Sky’s Operation 2015 program, a substantial renovation program, launched to keep the Vulcan flying for another two years, in serious jeopardy.