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Vintage VC10 pressed into service with RAF's transport fleet

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  • Vintage VC10 pressed into service with RAF's transport fleet

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/news...ort-fleet.html

    Vintage VC10 pressed into service with RAF's transport fleet

    A vintage aircraft that has been banned from flying passengers bar “exceptional circumstances” has been pressed into service with the RAF’s transport fleet at breaking point.

    Two of the 15 VC10s were retired this April after they had amassed a combined 81,500 flying hours

    Photo: ALAMY

    By Thomas Harding, Defence Correspondent 4:52PM GMT 21 Dec 2010

    The fleet of 50-year-old VC10 planes have been forced to start flying passengers again after the 40-year-old Tristar transport aircraft have been grounded by technical faults.

    Coupled with the poor weather there is now a backlog of 570 soldiers waiting to get home for Christmas leave.

    But the use of the VC10s has caused defence chiefs to question whether the “airbridge” to Afghanistan has been “stretched beyond breaking point”.

    Earlier this year the VC10s, which first came into service in the early Sixties, were ordered to be only used in an air-to-air refuelling capacity.

    The decision came on the back of the highly critical Haddon-Cave report that highlighted serious safety failings following the 2006 Nimrod crash over Afghanistan which resulted in 14 Service deaths.

    The Haddon-Cave review severely restricted the VC10’s ability to carry passengers because it has an outdated ground proximity warning device.

    However the aircraft, which can carry 124 people, is allowed to fly troops if a senior officer signs a waiver in exceptional circumstances such as a major war.

    “This is something we don’t do in routine circumstances, only if it is a serious national emergency like war when peacetime restrictions are dropped,” said an RAF source.

    The aircraft has other defensive security issues which cannot be disclosed at the request of the MoD.

    An RAF source said the ground proximity issue was “mitigated” by having another crewman in the cockpit as an “extra pair of eyes to keep a look out”.

    “If it’s foggy in Afghanistan then they would divert or if they feel it’s unsafe to go in they won’t go in.
    We would not operate aircraft it is compromised safety.

    Two of the 15 VC10s were retired this April after they had amassed a combined 81,500 flying hours.

    Keeping open the airbridge to Afghanistan is a massive undertaking for the RAF with its ageing transport fleet that has to fly out 230,000 passengers a year from Brize Norton.

    Already the recently bought C17 Globemasters are showing signs of fatigue with frequent breakdowns including one last month when Prince William was stranded in a Middle Eastern country for several hours on his way to Helmand.

    An Army officer who contacted The Daily Telegraph via a relative, said he had been stuck for five days in Kandahar waiting for an R and R flight.

    “I am absolutely furious as I have just been told we are not moving for five days.

    “The planes are useless and we are stuck here. Have we not learnt any lessons over the last decade?”

    The RAF transport fleet will start modernisation next autumn when the first of 14 Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft come into service.

    An RAF spokesman said: “The RAF is working 24/7 using C17, VC10, and charter aircraft to get our frontline troops home for Christmas.

    "The VC10 has an excellent safety record and our crewing and operating procedures ensure they are safe for our service personnel to fly in.”

    An RAF spokesman said: “The RAF is working 24/7 using C17, VC10 and charter aircraft to get our frontline troops home for Christmas.

    This year the RAF has flown thousands of troops all over the world in VC10s.

    They have recently been used - along with other aircraft - for part of the journey to and from theatre, though VC10s are not flying directly in or out of Afghanistan.

    The VC10 has an excellent safety record and our crewing and operating procedures ensure they are safe for our service personnel to fly in.”
    “The only time you have too much fuel is when you’re on fire.”

    Erwin


  • #2
    What are the problems with the Tristars that cant be solved?
    40750 hours dont sound much for the VC-10 as for the two retired aircrafts.
    "The real CEO of the 787 project is named Potemkin"

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    • #3
      I've heard the TriStars are suffering from fatigue in the spar of the horizontal stabilizer.

      Don't know if that is the only problem.

      Those hours on the VC-10 don't sound much indeed. Our 767's are well into the 90000 hrs.
      But I think you must take into account that the the VC-10 wasn't designed for much more than 40000 hrs?
      “The only time you have too much fuel is when you’re on fire.”

      Erwin

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      • #4
        OK, I have a book about the VC-10, probably in some box after my move.
        Anyways I check out the stats on aviation-saftey, and only one crashed VC-10 hours where given, 18k.
        "The real CEO of the 787 project is named Potemkin"

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        • #5
          A little exaggeration above with the "50-year" VC-10s and "40-year" Tristars. That said, I kind of think I would prefer a trip on the VC-10s than the Tristars.

          The root problem here is underfunding the RAF air transport fleet over many years, and particularly this past decade during a period of two wars. Unusual and unexpected flight profiles have accumulated and caught up with the service. Spares are also in short supply but are available, despite the fact that Tristars are virtually non-existent elsewhere. However, the supply chain for those supplies has become unduly complex and stretched. The VC-10s, robust as they are, are also suffering, and I feel their pain. They have never actually completely stopped flying "passengers", especially in case of need.

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          • #6
            I used to work for BAC who ended up supporting the VC-10. The reason for their demise as commercial aircraft was their maintainance cost - because so few aircraft were produced, spare parts and maintainance were very expensive compared to the Boeing 707. So BOAC and as I recall two foreign airlines phased them out of service.

            The RAF converted some to freight and refueling aircaft. Rolls Royce used a surplus VC-10 to test flight a L1011 and 747 engines (the VC-10 had two engines on one side of the fuselage and one test engine on the opposite side).

            Does anyone know what the predominant airframe aluminum alloy is?

            As a result of the Comet inversigations it was found that the jet engine exhaust could attach to the fuselage (coanda effect) and cause structural fatigue. That was one factor leading to the tail mounted engines on the VC-10, BAC-111, and Trident aircraft according to my aircraft structures professor in the 1960s.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Highkeas View Post
              I used to work for BAC who ended up supporting the VC-10. The reason for their demise as commercial aircraft was their maintainance cost - because so few aircraft were produced, spare parts and maintainance were very expensive compared to the Boeing 707. So BOAC and as I recall two foreign airlines phased them out of service.
              There have been numerous stories down the years that it was BOAC who negatively massaged the operating costs of the VC-10 to make them seem unfavorable when compared with the 707, which they much preferred. Is any of this true ?

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