XH558 was scheduled to take off at noon on May 28th for a crew currency and display training flight. Just after the start of the take-off roll, she experienced problems with two of her Olympus engines. The crew immediately shut all engines down and everyone is safe. At this stage, we don't have any further information but we will keep supporters informed via Twitter (@XH558), Facebook (Vulcan XH558) and the news section (here) of the charity's website (www.vulcantothesky.org).
Unfortunately, this means that she will not be able to fly for at least two weeks, although we will not know exactly how long rectification will take until the problem has been thoroughly investigated.
We will provide further updates when we know more.
Update Tuesday May 29th:
The failure occurred in the two port side engines (1 & 2) on the ground as the aircraft was easing towards full power at the start of her take-off roll. She is now back in her hangar where the technical team will investigate the problem. Our initial thought is that the symptoms are very much like those experienced when something is ingested by an engine so we will be investigating all possible sources. We would like to thank Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield (RHADS) for their immediate assistance and professionalism yesterday.
Update Wednesday 30th May:
The technical team spent yesterday (Tuesday) investigating the engine damage on XH558, to determine its cause and to start assessing the timescale and cost of rectification.
We have already established that both engines No.1 and No.2 on the port side are sadly beyond repair, both having suffered blade damage and the effect of excessive heat.
The primary cause of the damage has been determined to be ingestion of silica gel desiccant bags. The most likely sequence of events was that material was ingested by No.1 engine, which surged and suffered LP compressor blade failure. Debris was then sucked into No. 2 which then also failed.
All relevant agencies and technical authorities have been informed. “We have been greatly reassured by the support from industry colleagues, and would like to thank all those who have offered help,” said engineering director Andrew Edmondson.
We would also like to place on record our thanks to all at Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield for their swift and professional reaction on Monday, whilst also apologising to those affected by delays or diversions.
In accordance with normal procedures, a formal investigation into the incident has been opened, chaired by the Chairman of the Trust’s Safety Review Committee.
The technical inspection has so far showed that no airframe damage was sustained, with damage being limited to the engines. The next step is to replace the damaged engines with two from the Trust’s remaining stock. Timescales for a return to flight are not yet clear – we will of course update the web site with progress and give details in the e-newsletters each week.
“We are deeply sorry that this incident has happened, and at this time in 2012. The additional unplanned costs are clearly very worrying as resources are, as ever very tight” said the charity’s chief executive, Dr. Robert Pleming. “We are actively working on a plan to recover our Jubilee season schedule and we will share this with you as soon as practical via the newsletter, Facebook page, Twitter feed and the web site.”
Update Tuesday 3rd July:
XH558 took off earlier today on an initial flight to test the recently fitted engines. The crew reported no concerns and are now planning a further flight to develop the crew currency needed for our 2012 display routine. This will be subject to a suitable weather window and hence, is not set for any particular time.
Providing all goes well, the aircraft will take-off again on Friday and depart to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, ahead of this weekend’s Royal International Air Tattoo.