Dr Robert Pleming says technical obstacles means supersonic aircraft will stay grounded
There is no chance that Concorde will ever return to flight as an aviation heritage project, the man who brought the Vulcan bomber back to life has said.
Dr Robert Pleming, chief executive of the Vulcan to the Sky Trust, was responsible for overseeing a 14-year, £7 million restoration of delta-winged Avro Vulcan XH558, which now performs at air-shows across the UK.
But he said that despite a huge public fondness for Concorde, it was unlikely that a similar restoration project could be mounted to make the supersonic aircraft airworthy once again. Pleming said: “It would be impossible. Aerospatiale, the joint venture that designed and manufactured concorde, is now BAE Systems and EADS Airbus. There's no way that they would support Concorde flying now. So you would not get the design support.
“Rolls-Royce has said the same about the Olympus engines as well. It's a dead-end down that route.”
Pleming said there were also technical reasons that would prevent Concorde from flying again.
“Vulcan had relatively simple flight controls, it relied on a multiple number of controls to give redundancy.
“On Concorde they had a triplex hydraulic system for the flight controls and those hydraulic systems on all remaining Concorde aircraft have been drained. You'd end up having to replace the whole thing. That would be hundreds of millions of pounds.”
Meanwhile, there have been suggestions that a Handley Page Victor, a British jet-powered strategic bomber, developed and produced by the Handley Page Aircraft Company to serve during the Cold War, might also be returned to flight. But Pleming also had doubts that this could be achieved.
“Vulcan was an extremely strong aircraft and its fatigue life was far greater than the Victor.
“The Victor had very flexible wings - rather like a modern commercial airliner. There are none with any fatigue life left, unfortunately.
“There's also the question of engines. We were lucky in that Vulcan had zero-time engines. There are no available engines that could be used on Victors.”