An update released today regrding the situation of XH558 ( and Canberra WK163 ) by VTST :
Update from Vulcan to the Sky Trust
As many of you know, Vulcan to the Sky Trust (VTST) commenced negotiations in Spring 2018 with a private investor to secure funds to build a new home for XH558 and WK163. We have developed a design and secured planning permission for this ‘new build’, on land bought for this purpose by Doncaster Sheffield Airport (DSA).
In recent months, we have been increasingly aware that our supporters are becoming frustrated at the apparent lack of progress and in particular the absence of information on what has been happening. A condition of the ongoing negotiations has been a high level of confidentiality, and it was in turn frustrating from our perspective not to be able to disclose more.
Indeed, we know that some of you have sadly, but understandably, lost confidence in the Trust ever establishing a safe and secure home for our aircraft.
We appreciate that and, going forward, we will be making changes, to ensure that in the future you will be kept involved with and aware of progress and developments at VTST in a timely fashion..
Where we are now
To our great regret, the investor with whom we were working so hard with throughout 2018 caused us to lose confidence as the result of multiple delays. The investor failed to provide the funds he had promised, and progress on this deal ceased at the beginning of March.
Sadly, this resulted in the Sheffield City Region (SCR) capital grant timing out, because the grant, which was conditional on the investor’s funds being available, had to be spent before the end of March 2019.
However, with the assistance of new interested parties, we now have in place a modified funding model for the hangar. The Trustees are working hard to find new investors and additionally, have been given confidence that a further application for an SCR grant to fund the hangar fit-out when a new investor is found would be considered favourably.
We continue to enjoy the support of DSA and are working closely with them to ensure that the terms of the contracts between the airport, a future investor and ourselves are appropriate.
Despite this positive news, the lack of access to the aircraft in a safe hangar environment has badly impacted our business model. If the uncertainly over timescales continues, then the corresponding risk to our aircraft increases. Revenues have declined and, consequently, we have had to make some very difficult decisions over the recent months.
How we’re changing
By the end of September, we will have reduced our cost base by 31% since September 2018, but we aim to continue with our contractual and charitable commitments to safeguard the aircraft and related assets, as well as maintaining vital communication with our supporters, and continuing to raise the funds needed to carry out these activities.
We are reducing the frequency of our e-mail newsletters from one per week to one per month, but will ensure the news and information we share with our supporters is both timely and relevant.
The monthly newsletters will be complemented by dedicated updates by both email and social media as and when we have major news to share, and by limited targeted e-mails and social media broadcasts to advise of promotions and events.
We are aware that our regular readers would like more interesting news and information about XH558, WK163 and the Vulcan, the Canberra and the V-Force in general, and we are looking at how a wider range of articles can be provided.
We want to commence telling the compelling and largely unknown Canberra story, one of Britain’s most successful aircraft, and by doing so to build the justification for WK163’s return to flight.
In addition, we would very much like to provide better access to XH558 and WK163 where they currently stand, outside of the engine ground runs, for example to allow supporters to see their ‘names’.
We believe this is a benefit we must try to deliver. We must explore what is possible in order to increase access if we can, whilst acknowledging that there are operational issues and costs involved in providing this on an active airport.
In the coming months, we plan to recruit more volunteers with the skills and enthusiasm to take the Vulcan story out to the wider public. This will help to build a strong following for the new hangar and, in turn, help to secure the aircraft’s future.