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Flight Test Engineering Update

by Vulcan Support. Posted to category: Engineering

Flight test schedule is progressing well, however a few minor problems prevented the schedule being completed, never the less a successful event.

With all the OOP?s and Anti-Det Schedule complete it was another working weekend to prepare 558 for a few days away on holiday at RAF Cottesmore. This included a final check of the equipment required for the trip along with servicing the aircraft. This included an After Flight (AF) along with a Before Flight (BF) a top up all of the gases to make the job easier for the following morning.

All of the engineer?s had been busily preparing the equipment required for the away trip all the previous week, getting together all the necessary replenishments and possible spares. This included the major logistical exercise of transporting everything for us to be self sufficient including our oxygen and air bottles, air starter, towing arm, tractor (yes you weren?t imagining things we did take our own) as well as our recovery kit (wheels, brakes, etc). Even though RAF Cottesmore could have supplied these for us it was a good exercise for the coming display season.

So it?s Monday morning and a 6 o?clock start to BF the aircraft ready for the day?s flight, once it was all completed 558 was towed out to 024 threshold where she would be operated from. The aircrew then turned up for part of their annual training and went through the crew evacuations drills; it was carried out then as they had a new member for the next couple of flights Iain Young MA Chief Test Pilot on board. Once this was completed the aircrew then went back to brief the air test while we prepared the aircraft ready for take off.

Once the crew arrived and had strapped in, it was time for the pre-flight checks. There were a few minor problems with a couple of filaments ruptured (as opposed to bulbs blown ? technical talk!) and one of the PFCU?s not wanting to start (technical adjustment required on an electrical component) she was ready to go. Then for the magnificent sight of 558 soaring back into the sky and on to the next episode of the day.

The flight test schedule was going well with around 80% of the schedule complete and a couple of undercarriage functionals complete the starboard undercarriage had a red indication, Barry Masefield the AEO looked through the periscope and confirmed the door had not closed. After looking at the door to see if it would come up he then noticed the AAPP had a fire warning! Procedures were then followed, the fire bottle was discharged, and the call went out (however the light did not). Barry continued to look through the periscope to see if there were any signs of fire on the AAPP, which there wasn?t however the starboard door had now decided to close on its own. The aircraft then landed safely at RAF Cottesmore to the relief of us all and virtually every fire, ambulance and doctors in a 50 mile radius!! The fire indication at this time was doing its own thing and coming on and off at random.

Once down and the aircraft made safe it was into debrief and find out what we needed to rectify. There was yet another filament ruptured, one of the alternator voltage was on its upper limit and of course the AAPP. Once the aircrew had left for a well earned REFRESHMENT, the Engineers? checked the AAPP for any signs of fire damage (none apparent) and carried out the AF.

The following day started a busy as the one before, with replacement of a voltage regulator followed by a quick ground run to check the alternators output. Then on to the main reason for us to be at RAF Cottesmore, the Compass Swing. Glenn and Stu had arrived from MA and started setting up the Bendix-King main compass heading prior to towing the aircraft across on to the compass base. By the time this first part was complete and we had towed 558 across, it was lunchtime and the heavens started to open and continued to do so for the next 5 hours until we had completed the Compass Swing and towed the 558 back over to VASS where she was staying.

Wednesday and yet another early start as some people were on telly early! Before 558 could go flying again we had to test the entire AAPP fire system, replace the fire bottle and firetec control unit and blend out a small mark on one of the LP1 blades on No4 engine caused by a missing rivet from the intake, oh and I nearly forgot replace the missing rivet! 558 then had a BF and prepared for her next outing and telly appearance just after mid-day. Everything went well on the see off this time at around 13.30 she took to the skies for a shorter than planned flight as her starboard undercarriage door was being troublesome again and did not want to play so it stayed open. So back to Brunty she went with the ground crew chasing after her and landed once again safely streaming the chute and showing off her knickers!!

Well that?s all for now, except I would like to thank everyone form RAF Cottesmore who help us during the last week especially Barney and all of his lads from VASS who were the ideal hosts and friends.


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