Losses and Aviation Safety

Preserved [Non-flyable] Avro Vulcan XM655 suffered Runway Excursion during fast taxi run

Avro Vulcan XM655 suffered a runway excursion at Wellesbourne-Mountford airfield, UK, on Sep. 16, 2022 during the trial run for the public event which was planned for Sunday Sep. 18.

According to Avro Vulcan XM655 Facebook page, Vulcan XM655 (maintained by XM655 Maintenance and Preservation Society, 655MaPS, non-profit organization of Vulcan enthusiasts) suffered a runway excursion at Wellesbourne-Mountford airfield, UK, on Sep. 16, 2022 during the trial run for the public event which was planned for Sunday Sep. 18.

As a result of the mishap the event has been cancelled.

The non-profit organization explained what happened;

‘After satisfactorily completing low speed steering and braking tests on runway 05/23, the aircraft was taken onto runway 18/36 for a trial high speed run. Due to a malfunction of a piece of equipment in the cockpit, the aircraft remained at full power for approximately two seconds longer than intended. This resulted in excessive speed and less distance in which to stop, and the aircraft passed beyond the end of the runway on to the agricultural area, stopping just before the airfield perimeter. The failed equipment was an air speed indicator which had been tested and found satisfactory six days ago, and which started working normally before the end of the run. The aircraft brakes worked properly but were unable to bring things to a halt within the reduced space available.’

655MaPS explained in another Facebook post;

‘It was all going to plan on Friday and the aircraft was towed to the inactive runway for crew training. The start went well and our only hiccup was the loss of power during the early checks. We think this was probably due to the ground power connector not being fully engaged in the ground power socket so a quick reseat resolved the issue and normal service resumed. The crew then went on to a series of turns and figure of eight manoeuvres within the confines of the inactive area before making their decision to carry out their practice fast taxi as part of their return journey to the pan.

‘Unfortunately, the ASI normally used to ascertain the aircraft speed is the one fitted in the P2 position, so with P1 in the driving seat the P2 would call the speed. The ASI appears to have stuck, hence no feedback to P1. There isn’t much time to work things out once the Vulcan is rolling and by the time the P1 realised he wasn’t getting any info the close down of the throttles was a few seconds late. It doesn’t sound much but it was enough that the aircraft was carrying too much speed at the normal turn off point. She departed the runway and came to rest next to the hedge at the airfield perimeter and just before the Stratford road. It looks as if the soil conditions were perfect for slowing her down and although she plowed 3 furrows across the field she was brought to rest with no injuries to the crew or anyone else and they all departed the aircraft with no external assistance.

‘It took a lot of digging and a lot of pulling on Saturday but early in the evening she was safely returned to the pan where we will begin a series of inspections to establish the condition of everything. Initial visual inspections look good but we will need to carry out a lot more checks yet before we can be certain.’

According to 655MaPS website, Avro Vulcan XM655 was third from last of the Vulcan bombers produced for the Royal Air Force, being delivered in late 1964, and was part of the UK’s nuclear deterrent force throughout the 1960s and 1970s. It is now owned by Wellesbourne Airfield.

XM655 is one of the few Vulcans remaining in ground running condition, the only one with the most powerful of the engine variants (Bristol Olympus 301s) and 655MaPS aim to keep it running for as long as possible. The aircraft systems, which are powered up and exercised regularly, are available for demonstration to booked parties of visitors, engine ground runs are carried out several times every year, and “Fast Taxi” events are carried out most summers to show off the aircraft and raise funds to support its preservation.

Photo credit: Unknown

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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