Vulcan XL426 Gets a New Hangar Home at Southend Airport

The Vulcan Restoration Trust (VRT) have  announce that Vulcan XL426 will be moving to a new home under cover at London Southend Airport.  XL426, owned by the VRT, will relocate to the airport’s Hangar 6 for an initial five-year period with the first part of the move to a temporary holding location already under way until the hangar is ready.

Since the beginning of May VRT volunteers, assisted by London Southend Airport, have been busy preparing the Hangar 6 for XL426’s arrival. Tasks have included upgrading of the hangar’s electrical services, replacement of ceiling tiles, bring the hangar doors back into operation and an extensive amount of cleaning and tidying. The hangar, together with the adjacent Hangar 5, measures some 4,000 square metres and will also provide space for VRT’s ground equipment and spares.

VRT and London Southend Airport have been in negotiations since early 2017 over a new site and agreement to relocate XL426 to Hangar 6 was reached at the end of April. The move is necessary due to extra car parking space being needed for the increasing numbers of passengers using Southend Airport. This included the area of XL426’s former parking pan, meaning a new site had to be found for the Vulcan.

VRT Trustee Richard Clarkson said: “This is fantastic outcome for XL426 and the VRT. Getting XL426 under cover is something we have dreamed about for many years and it is now a reality. London Southend Airport has been incredibly positive and helpful throughout the whole process, and we can’t thank them enough for the support they have provided and will continue to provide. A roof over XL426’s head opens up many opportunities for us, both in terms of engineering and increased public access to the Vulcan.”

Glyn Jones, CEO Stobart Aviation said : “The Vulcan is a key part of the history of London Southend Airport and incredibly popular with visitors so we have been very pleased to work with the Trust to provide it with a new home that helps their objective of creating an even better visitor experience, at the same time as helping us grow as an airport”.

London Southend Airport is assisting VRT practically and financially with XL426’s move so that the costs, and the ongoing hangar cost of running the hangar, remain affordable. VRT has, however, launched a campaign to raise funds for it to improve its engineering facilities in the hangar and to make it a high quality environment in which the public can visit XL426. Details of how to contribute to the fund can be found on the VRT’s website: www.avrovulcan.com.

The public’s first chance to see XL426 in its new home will be on Fathers’ Day, Sunday June 18th, when VRT will hold one of its popular Visit the Vulcan Days. Further Visit the Vulcan Days are planned for Sunday August 20th and Sunday September 24th.

Digital ATC Tower for London City Airport

 

 

It has been announced that London’s City Airport is to become the first UK airport to build and operate a digital Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower, with a multi-million pound investment in the technology. Working closely with NATS, the UK’s air traffic provider, London City has approved plans for a new tower, at the top of which will be 14 high definition cameras and 2 pan-tilt-zoom cameras. The cameras will provide a 360-degree view of the airfield in a level of detail greater than the human eye and with new viewing tools that will modernise and improve air traffic management.

The images of the airport and data will be sent via independent and secure super-fast fibre networks to a brand new operations room at the NATS control centre in Swanwick, Hampshire. From Swanwick, air traffic controllers will perform their operational role, using the live footage displayed on 14 HD screens that form a seamless panoramic moving image, alongside the audio feed from the airfield, and radar readings from the skies above London, to instruct aircraft and oversee movements. The 50-metre digital tower was approved by the London Borough of Newham in late 2016.

Construction of the tower is due to be completed in 2018, followed by more than a year of rigorous testing and training, during which the existing 30-year old tower will continue to operate. The digital tower will become fully operational in 2019.

Italian Tornado for Cosford show

The flying display line-up for the RAF Cosford Air Show received another exciting  boost this week, with the news that the Italian Air Force will be sending a Tornado to perform on Sunday 11th June.

It is hoped that the jet used for the flying display will be adorned in a special paint scheme, unveiled earlier this year in Italy, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the 311° Gruppo.

The Italian Air Force will also be sending a C-27J Spartan, a tactical transport aircraft, for static display at the show.

The RAF Cosford Air Show is an advanced ticket only event, for more details see www.cosfordairshow.co.uk

Boeing KC-46A Tanker Joins Flight Test Programme

Boeing now has six aircraft in its KC-46 tanker test programme, expanding its ability to complete ground and flight-test activities as it progresses toward first deliveries to the US Air Force.

The newest KC-46 aerial refueling aircraft, the second low-rate initial production plane, completed its first flight April 29. Its test activities will help ensure the KC-46 can safely operate through electromagnetic fields produced by radars, radio towers and other systems.

“Adding another tanker will help us to become even more efficient and significantly improve our ability to complete test points going forward,” said Jeanette Croppi, Boeing KC-46A tanker test team director. “We are also re-configuring one of our 767-2C aircraft into a tanker, which means we soon will have four KC-46 tankers in test.”

“This first flight is another important step for the KC-46 programme toward verifying the aircraft’s operational capabilities,” said Col. John Newberry, Air Force KC-46 System program manager. “Adding this aircraft brings key capabilities to the test fleet and helps move us closer to delivering operational aircraft to the warfighter.”

To date, the program’s test aircraft have completed 1,600 flight hours and more than 1,200 ‘contacts’ during refueling flights with F-16, F/A-18, AV-8B, C-17, A-10 and KC-10 aircraft.

The KC-46 is derived from Boeing’s commercial 767 airframe. The company expects to build 179 tankers in its Everett factory.

The KC-46A is a multirole tanker that can refuel all allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures and can carry passengers, cargo and patients.

Steam engine nameplate for Battle of Britain Memorial

A piece of railways history is to be unveiled at the Battle of Britain Memorial in Kent following the presentation of the squadron badge and original nameplate from a steam locomotive.  The Battle of Britain Locomotive Society presented the items from Battle of Britain class Pacific engine 34081 at a ceremony at the Nene Valley Railway (NVR), at Wansford, Cambridgeshire.

The nameplate and the badge of 92 Squadron – famously based at Biggin Hill during the Battle of Britain in 1940 – will shortly go on display at the Battle of Britain Memorial in Capel-le-Ferne, home to the National Memorial to the Few.  The long-term loan of the items was suggested by the preservation society as a way of ensuring the items could be on display in a ‘truly appropriate setting’.

They were presented to Gp Capt Patrick Tootal, Secretary of the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust, and Wg Cdr Andrew Simpson, one of the Trustees, by Ian Bowskill, Chairman of the Society, formerly known as the Battle of Britain Locomotive Preservation Society.  The items will be displayed in The Wing, the Trust’s visitor centre.

Locomotive 34081 entered service from the Brighton works in September 1948 but was withdrawn from Eastleigh shed in August 1964 and subsequently sold to Dai Woodham’s scrapyard at Barry Island in South Wales.

Bought by the preservation society in autumn 1973, she arrived at Wansford on the NVR near Peterborough on December 7, 1976.  Following restoration, it moved under her own power in 1998 – the first time since 1964 – and became a regular performer on various heritage railways until being withdrawn for overhaul at the North Norfolk Railway in 2008.

The engine returned to service on the NVR in February following 7 years of restoration work.  She was rededicated at a ceremony held at Wansford during which a Supermarine Spitfire from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight performed a flypast.  After the re-dedication, replica nameplates were unveiled on the locomotive by Wg Cdr Tim McAuley, Officer Commanding 92 Squadron, so that the original nameplate and badge could be handed over to the trust.

Gp Capt Patrick Tootal ( on the left) standing in front of the re-dedicated locomotive with Ian Bowskill, chairman of the Battle of Britain Locomotive Society

 

USAF Heavyweights for RIAT

The US Air Force has confirmed that two of its largest and most formidable aircraft will be flying into RAF Fairford this summer to take part in the Royal International Air Tattoo.

The bombers, a B-52H Stratofortress and a B-1B Lancer will join other USAF machines, including the F-22 Raptor and Thunderbirds display team as part of celebrations marking the service’s 70th anniversary.  The B-52H will come from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana and the B-1B from Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota.

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View XL426 up close on April 23, 2017

A ‘Visit Vulcan XL426’ open day event is due to be held at (London) Southend Airport on Sunday April 23, from 10.00 to 16.00 hours.  The Vulcan Restoration Trust (VRT) team will be on hand to give visitors guided tours of Vulcan XL426, and cockpit tours for an additional small fee.

Also on display will be a WE177B bomb, carried by the Vulcan during its time with the RAF, as well as examples of the 1,000lb high explosive bombs the Vulcan dropped on Port Stanley airfield during the 1982 Falklands Conflict.

Special displays will include the cockpit of an RAF Buccaneer, a selection of historic RAF and Army Land Rovers, plus historic fire engines, all of which will be free to sit inside.

Richard Clarkson, VRT Secretary said: “Our Visit the Vulcan days are a great family day out; young or old, people are always awe-struck by the Vulcan. It’s a real testament to our volunteers that we can offer such a unique opportunity for people to see up close one of only 3 live condition Vulcans in the world.

“Our souvenir stand will be open selling a selection of Vulcan souvenirs, including Vulcan models, badges, patches, postcards, books, and much more. There will also be hot and cold snacks and drinks available.

“The VRT is a charitable organisation which is funded by donations, membership subscription and open days which is why events like this are very important to ensure the future of Vulcan XL426. We run Visit the Vulcan days throughout the year so keep any eye on our website and Facebook page. We look forward to seeing everyone and showing off our pride and joy”.

General admission is £4.00 for adults with accompanied under-16s admitted free. Admission and cockpit tickets will only be on sale ‘at the gate’ on the day of the event – please note that there are no advance ticket sales. Entry is free for Vulcan Restoration Trust members.

Car Parking – important notice – Due to ongoing airport development, there will be no free parking at the Visit the Vulcan Day. All car parking will be in the airport’s short stay car parks for which there is a charge. Visitors to arrive by train or bus if possible. London Southend Airport station is only two minutes walk from the Vulcan and is served by frequent trains on the London Liverpool Street to Southend Victoria line. Turn right when leaving the station and follow the signs to the Vulcan.

HISTORIC BLADE LOANED TO JET AGE MUSEUM

An historic artefact which helped propel aviation into the jet age will go on public display in Gloucester thanks to the RAF Charitable Trust.

The blade, part of the propeller fitted to the experimental turbo-prop Gloster Trent Meteor I EE227, belonged to the late Fred Crawley who donated it to the RAF Charitable Trust, of which he was a Trustee. It is to go on display at the Jet Age Museum.

Museum archivist Richard Hentschke said: “This turboprop blade has a significant place in the history of the Jet Age, and therefore also for the Jet Age Museum. The world’s first turboprop aircraft was a modified Gloster Meteor used as a testbed for the Rolls-Royce Trent engine. With five-bladed propellers fitted to its two modified Derwent jet engines it pioneered the type of propulsion used by many short and medium range airliners today.”

RAFCT Director Justine Morton said Fred was a long term supporter both of the charity and of the Royal International Air Tattoo. He donated a large number of interesting aviation related items to the charity and donated a significant sum of money that was to be used to benefit the many volunteers who help stage the Air Tattoo each year.

She said: “Fred was very happy for the mounted blade to be loaned to the new Jet Age Museum at Gloucester Airport so people could view it as he recognised it was a significant piece of Gloster Aircraft Company’s history.”

Jet Age Museum historian and Trustee Tim Kershaw said Meteor I EE227 had seen RAF service with 616 Squadron before being transferred to Rolls-Royce at Hucknall for the new engines to be installed. It first flew on September 20, 1945, with Gloster’s chief test pilot Eric Greenwood at the controls.

Mr Kershaw added: “Gloster had schemed the project in January 1944 as Gloster Meteor I type aircraft with Rolls-Royce W2B/37 propeller combination installation after Sir Stanley Hooker’s research team showed the potential fuel economy for speeds below 450mph (724kph) of a jet engine fitted with reduction gear and an airscrew.  Although Greenwood suffered 18 complete engine failures in 21 flights, the programme continued until March 1948. It led to Rolls-Royce developing the highly successful Clyde and Dart turboprops.”

The Jet Age Museum is devoted to the preservation, conservation and public display of Gloucestershire’s world-class aviation heritage and holds a major collection of Gloster Aircraft Company aircraft, artefacts and archives.

Iran Aseman Selects the MAX

Iran Aseman Airlines has signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with Boeing for the purchase of up to 60 737 MAX aircraft.  The deal, which was announced in Tehran on April 4, consists of a $3bn firm order for 30 jets, plus purchase rights for a further 30.

This is the second large order the US manufacturer has reached with Iranian airlines since sanctions were eased in January 2016, following an international agreement on the country’s nuclear programme.  It follows an $8bn deal for 80 aircraft with Iran Air last December.

Boeing says it has negotiated the MoA under the authorisations from the US Government following a determination that Iran had met its obligations under the nuclear accord.  This latest deal still requires final approval from the government.  Once this is received a firm contract can be signed, with the first aircraft expected to be delivered to the carrier in 2022.

RAF boss visits Pakistan Air Force

 

The Royal Air Force’s Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, visited the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) last week. During his three-day trip from March 30 to April 1 he spent time with the PAF CAS, Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman and was briefed on the PAF’s ongoing fight against terrorism, which is conducted under Operation Zarb-e-Azb.

On March 31 Hillier visited the newly named PAF Academy Asghar Khan (formerly Risalpur) where he was chief guest at a graduation ceremony for the 118th Combat Support Course and 39th Basic Learning Pilots Course. During his speech, the RAF CAS said: “the RAF made a valuable contribution towards the development of PAF especially in its early years – a contribution that was deeply appreciated.” He went on to add: “the relations between two countries and, of course the two air forces, will continue to strengthen even further.”

During a visit to Mushaf Air Base the following day, the RAF CAS reinforced his sentiment when he announced that the PAF’s 9 Multirole Squadron ‘Griffins’, which flies F-16A/Bs, would twin with the RAF’s No 9 ‘Bats’ Squadron currently flying Tornado GR4s. It is unclear what the twinning will mean, given the high level of operational activity that the two units are involved in. Both squadrons are participating in ongoing operations against terrorism – the PAF in the FATA region of Pakistan and the RAF over Syria and Iraq.

Air Chief Marshal Aman said: “No 9 Squadrons of both the air forces have a rich legacy and have been frontline squadrons since their inception. The twinning of these squadrons would help us in learn from each other and strengthen our cordial relations.”

While addressing the occasion ACM Hillier said: “The Pakistan Air Force is respected world over due to its sound professionalism and deeply respected in the [United Kingdom].” He added: “The twinning of these renowned squadrons will further develop their capabilities and lay a foundation to build on the legacy of our predecessors.”

Earlier in the day, both the air chiefs flew a mission in separate 9 Squadron F-16Bs. It was the first time that a foreign CAS had participated in a joint mission with a PAF CAS. Alan Warnes