Author Topic: Vulcan Bottle failure  (Read 19001 times)

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Offline Rover3500

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Vulcan Bottle failure
« on: October 02, 2015, 10:56:00 PM »
My views might be controversial, I don't wish to offend anybody.

I speak as someone who has studied both Material Science and Mechanical engineering but I don't profess to be an aviation expert.  But  I have to say that calling a halt to XH558  flights seems like a massive failure of well..bottle to me . That's on the part of the Aviation Authorities that seem to have got  their risk assessment slide rules out  and decided they want to remove a miniscule theoretical risk of their books.

Isn't the Vulcan  becoming the true 'Spirit of Great Britain'..... in 2015. Cowed by the Health and safety shouty people that say almost no level of risk can be tolerated anymore.?. It seems we can't make or do anything as it's too expensive/dangerous or difficult...
We can't even use a ladder anymore for goodness sake, never mind fly a well maintained Jet plane that is by all accounts in excellent condition.

I thought the Vulcan was supposed to be inspirational and an antidote to the 'can't do',  defeatist  attitude that prevails in much of modern Britain.  Well it was until now.......

And I'm sorry but what is the point of another Vulcan that cannot fly. Another eagle with it's wings clipped.  How are kids going to get inspired by a jet plane that cannot fly because someone in an office,in London  that has never even wielded a spanner or a throttle lever  says it's too dangerous ?

The whole USP of XH558 is that she can fly and show kids, big and little what an amazing machine this country could build on it's own.  To make us proud again, to tingle our spines... just for a few moments ..now that's been taken away...

Why stop flight  now ?. Surely the point of maximum risk was the return to  flight just after the overhaul  when the Vulcan  was literally pulled apart and rebuilt ?.  Many systems had been overhauled and un-tested in flight. Now 7 years after effectively much testing, validation  and much experience gained, Vulcan   is to be grounded.  This makes no sense.

Yes I know the aircraft is 50 years old but so what ? . She is an aeroplane -  not a horse,a human being or a Datsun Sunny. She cannot get dementia, wrinkles, suffer  bronchitis or rust away into a pile of dust overnight.

She is made of steel, aluminium with rubber and plastic parts that can be replaced should they degrade in safety critical areas.  The rotating parts of the engine could have all kinds of sophisticated material testing done on them (that wasn't available in the 1960's) to validate them for further flight. If the WILL was there from Rolls Royce which it doesn't seem to be.
The operating  hours and power requirements of the engine (in display duty)  are minimal  compared to what she has covered in service.

The condition of the airframe itself could be checked by non destructive methods . The flights hours on XH558  are said to be high  but that is in the context of the  theoretical limits  set by arbitrarily defined factors of safety.
The repairs to the wing leading edge having been completed would suggest the frame is now in very good shape.

I have a massive amount of respect for the team -  pilots and volunteers that made the return to flight possible - but really why are the aviation authority's stopping them now. ?.  We need more of the  'Spirit of Great Britain 1959'....not  the 'spirit of 2015'.

Offline jocelyn

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Re: Vulcan Bottle failure
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2015, 12:03:32 AM »
Bravo, Rover3500....... Nail, head etc !

Offline StAthan lecky

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Re: Vulcan Bottle failure
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2015, 08:29:40 AM »
Excellent comments and to the point,unfortunately these will fall on deaf ears regrettably.

Mike
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Offline dee

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Re: Vulcan Bottle failure
« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2015, 08:38:53 AM »
A deafening round of applause from me!!!! Well said!!!!!!!!!!
That huge triangle against the sky like some monstrous angel trailing dark clouds of glory

Offline paulh

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Re: Vulcan Bottle failure
« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2015, 09:02:23 AM »
Another well said  ;)

Cheers Paul.

Offline Mayfly

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Re: Vulcan Bottle failure
« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2015, 09:14:01 AM »
Looks like I'm in minority here then.

Of course I would love to see 558 fly into the next century but all knew this was coming.

Without the OEMs backing, 558 would never have flown again, 8 years down the line I can't blame them for re-evaluating the situation nor for putting their core business interests first.

A MOD that was never carried out in service and 10% more flying hours than any other aircraft of it's type? I think their backing thus far has been amazing and if they feel it's time to call it a day they have their reasons.


Offline PaulH2015

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Re: Vulcan Bottle failure
« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2015, 10:58:05 AM »
As I understand it it is the Trust that has called a halt, not any external authority.  How come any number of classic piston-engined aircraft and jets (Hunter excluded at the moment) can continue to fly if the authorities were getting windy about age?

The Trust's decision is on the basis of not being able to call on the expertise of its three technical partners after this year.  That expertise has been from retired personnel, something they feel they can no longer guarantee - people get older too.

Do you know how many aircraft and crew were lost due to accidents and failures when these aircraft were new?  I was shocked when I read the 60th anniversary book, and none of them involved 'enemy' action of any kind. 

When a Victor or Valiant was moved to Cosford they had to remove the wings, and they found extensive corrosion that had occurred internally, but were able to repair otherwise there would have even been limitations on how they could display it statically.  The same corrosion was found on the Vulcan and had to be repaired during its restoration.  Metals and plastics and everything else deteriorate over time even when doing nothing and have a finite life.  The wing modification had always been planned for by Avro based on their life-cycle testing where they take an airframe and stress it until it breaks, look for the cause and fix it, then do it all over again and again.  All that wing mod meant was that part was strengthened, it says nothing about the rest of the airframe.  And the very fact it needed to be applied shows how that area was likely to have deteriorated.  The Vulcan is now beyond what Avro ever envisioned.  An aircraft is not like a old car where if it breaks it just coasts to a halt at the side of the road, failure in the air is going to have a huge impact (!) down below.

The permit to fly for the Vulcan doesn't expire until May or so next year, so it could have conceivably flown until then.  But Taff Stone told me earlier this year that if they were to do that the scheduled 2015/16 winter service that would be needed is only one short of the full restoration that was carried out before it returned to flight. Can you imagine what that would cost?

Every time I see the Vulcan I just shake my head in wonder at its grace and power, it's balletic.  I shall be very sad to see its final flight, but I think the trust have made a brave decision.  Better to retire gracefully and live to do engine runs and fast taxys, than to end in disaster like the last Mosquito.

The Trust's biggest problem now is the final flight.  I was amazed at how many people turned up in Old Bawtry Road for an 'ordinary' Sunday flight earlier this year.  They can plead all they like but given the selfishness and lack of consideration for others that seems so prevalent these days I can see thousands still turning up on the basis that perhaps enough other people wouldn't.  The Trust are running the real risk of massive penalties from Police and airport autorities.  They are either going to have to cancel the final flights, announce others then cancel those, or make the final planned flight from and to an unannounced airfield, and fly back to Doncaster unannounced.

Offline leslie

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Re: Vulcan Bottle failure
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2015, 07:35:51 PM »
No the OEMs and design authorities have withdrawn their support for the aircraft, without these companies support she CAN NOT legally fly, although the trust announced her retirement that decision was forced my the OEMs, the trust did everything they could to change the companies minds many many many meetings, alas they were not swayed. The trust if they could would fly her forever.

Offline Rover3500

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Re: Vulcan Bottle failure
« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2015, 12:42:40 AM »
My understanding is  that the Trust's initial aim was to fly the Vulcan for 10 years - this seemed like a reasonable aim considering XH558 came with 8 spare engines (4 of which were zero hours units) and the huge costs of the repairs and maintenance needed.

Now  we are told that after  less than 40 hours of careful flying  a year,  over 8 years the engines  are now all clapped out and unable to carry on anymore. I appreciate metal fatigue is inherently unpredictable but 320 hours  seems like a ludicrously short life even for a military spec jet engine.  At this rate XH558 covering around 7000 HRS during her  RAF duty would have needed   a set of 4 new or overhauled engines every 18 months.
 
Bearing in mind XH558 is flown not  as aggressively as it would have been whilst in RAF service, this is even more surprising.
As late as 2014, the Trust made it clear it still had 6 spare engines available and that measures were in place to limit the numbers of hours used..
 
However engine life doesn't seem to be the problem. The trust commenting on
the early retirement say :-

'The issues causing us to cease flying are more to do with calendar life than flying hours'.

So if it's not an engine life issue, what are the components that are deteriorating because of old age rather than stress and fatigue ?. And why cannot these be checked/replaced/overhauled ?.

There have been Vulcan accidents but many of these are attributed to error by pilots stretching the envelope of what is possible just a bit too far  or just their lack of experience . This isn't an issue for  XH558 considering the experience of her pilots and the stringent regulations on display flying.  Furthermore such incidents can occur to any display aircraft - a risk that is acceptable.

Other incidents  were caused by earlier less well developed and proven Vulcans. No incident with a B2 Vulcan has ever been attributed to structural failure  - the likelihood of this occurring to XH558 would seem to be vanishingly small given the low g manoeuvre's executed and the amount of monitoring and maintenance she has received.

I can't help feeling this decision  is just a back covering exercise on someone's part - calling a halt to flight because it's the easy thing to do in a world where common sense seems to have been abolished. .  It's a 50 mph speed limit on an empty section of  motorway or a visitor to a factory been told to wear goggles,  hi - viz jacket safety and  boots. A sign of our times.


Offline Funtera

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Re: Vulcan Bottle failure
« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2015, 05:43:40 AM »
calling a halt to flight because it's the easy thing to do in a world where common sense seems to have been abolished. .  It's a 50 mph speed limit on an empty section of  motorway. A sign of our times.

Whilst I agree with some of your points .. the 50s are for your safety .. if we recieve a report of debris,animals,pedestrians or possible accidents, we lower the speeds until we can check with a Traffic Officer Crew and make a visual check to ensure your safety and the smoothness of your journey. We don't like slamming restrictions on for no reason but it's safer doing 50 than 70+ and having to slam to a stop (possibly with an hgv behind you) because of a tyre carcass in lane 1!

 @funtera
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Offline Captain Black

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Re: Vulcan Bottle failure
« Reply #10 on: October 04, 2015, 07:41:45 AM »
 'Spirit of Great Britain 1959' ?


http://www.ukserials.com/losses-1959.htm

Offline MrTim

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Re: Vulcan Bottle failure
« Reply #11 on: October 04, 2015, 09:52:00 AM »
As far as I am aware, the Trust have 6 engines (4 installed), not 6 spare engines.
I'm masking my indifference with a veneer of detachment

Offline Rover3500

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Re: Vulcan Bottle failure
« Reply #12 on: October 04, 2015, 05:52:22 PM »
calling a halt to flight because it's the easy thing to do in a world where common sense seems to have been abolished. .  It's a 50 mph speed limit on an empty section of  motorway. A sign of our times.

Whilst I agree with some of your points .. the 50s are for your safety .. if we recieve a report of debris,animals,pedestrians or possible accidents, we lower the speeds until we can check with a Traffic Officer Crew and make a visual check to ensure your safety and the smoothness of your journey. We don't like slamming restrictions on for no reason but it's safer doing 50 than 70+ and having to slam to a stop (possibly with an hgv behind you) because of a tyre carcass in lane 1!

I don't have a problem with the temporary restrictions in response to traffic incidents. That is sensible..

My own experience has been miles and miles of 50 MPH restrictions on the M1 - despite the fact that there NEVER seems to be  anyone doing any actual work and the work areas are well segregated for the 2 minutes a day when someone actually picks up a shovel.
We can no longer be trusted to make a judgement on what is a safe speed to travel so we sit there for mile after mile watching our speedometers and not the car in front.
Furthermore we are subjected to many patronising messages 'My Dad  works here, please drive carefully'.  Then so as to be PC this has to be balanced with another 'My Mum works here... I'm fairly sure I saw 'My uncle works here ..' too.  :o

Then worst of all is the 'Lets all get home safely' message. At this point I almost need to vomit with the stomach churning sentimentality of it thinking of all the ridiculous meetings  that decided this bilge was a good idea.   

Offline Funtera

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Re: Vulcan Bottle failure
« Reply #13 on: October 04, 2015, 07:37:36 PM »

I don't have a problem with the temporary restrictions in response to traffic incidents. That is sensible..

My own experience has been miles and miles of 50 MPH restrictions on the M1 - despite the fact that there NEVER seems to be  anyone doing any actual work and the work areas are well segregated for the 2 minutes a day when someone actually picks up a shovel.
We can no longer be trusted to make a judgement on what is a safe speed to travel so we sit there for mile after mile watching our speedometers and not the car in front.
Furthermore we are subjected to many patronising messages 'My Dad  works here, please drive carefully'.  Then so as to be PC this has to be balanced with another 'My Mum works here... I'm fairly sure I saw 'My uncle works here ..' too.  :o

Then worst of all is the 'Lets all get home safely' message. At this point I almost need to vomit with the stomach churning sentimentality of it thinking of all the ridiculous meetings  that decided this bilge was a good idea.

Phew, that's OK then .. Not My region ! M1 is a Mess , I deal with the West Midlands Region!

 @funtera
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Offline StAthan lecky

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Re: Vulcan Bottle failure
« Reply #14 on: October 04, 2015, 08:02:31 PM »
Loving this thread,you should be on "Have I Got News For You"

 :))

Mike
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