Ninety four percent of respondents to a survey on the future of XH558, the last flying Avro Vulcan, replied that they would like the aircraft to continue to deliver her spectacular displays across the country.
The survey was conducted three months into fund raising for vital work to the aircraft’s wings for which fewer than 2,000 people have so far pledged a contribution.
“We conducted the poll because the small number of pledges towards two more flying years had made us question if we really understand what people want,” explained the charity’s chief executive, Dr. Robert Pleming. “Around three million people see her fly each year and many supporters make generous donations to help us through the display season, but we are substantially behind target with our fundraising for Operation 2015, a challenging engineering programme that we must start soon if she is to fly after this season.”
The survey was conducted amongst supporters who have registered for the charity’s electronic newsletter and popular Facebook page.
Of the 12,573 unique responses, 94% voted ‘yes’ to flying on, 3.4% voted ‘undecided’ and only 2.6% voted ‘no’.
Pleming sees this is a strong indication of overwhelming support for doing everything possible to fly in 2014 and 2015.
The wing strengthening modification is needed because XH558 runs out of currently-permitted structural fatigue life at the end of this season.
The original Avro designs and tooling for the work are no longer available, so at this time last year it was thought that XH558 may have flown for the last time.
“Our engineering team and their technical partners worked hard to find a solution, and we are delighted that they have come up with a way to recreate the approved modification using a fascinating combination of very high-technology computer analysis and traditional craft skills,” explains Dr. Pleming.
To fund Operation 2015, the charity is asking those who support two more flying years to pledge their donations now, which will be collected when the £400,000 target is met.
A range of rewards are being offered, from car stickers and signed photographs to VIP days with the aircraft and her crew. Details of the technical programme and of the rewards for supporting it are at www.operation2015.org.
At the end of October, trustees of the charity will decide if the work can be commissioned or if XH558 must be prepared for ground-based duties only.
Vulcan to the Sky Trust must also raise urgent additional funding to reach this point, bridging the gap between the end of display season commercial income in September and the redemption of pledges for Operation 2015 in November.