Vulcan XH558


Project Outline:

To produce detail design drawings for Vulcan XH558’s vital wing modification. This was needed to extend the aircraft’s fatigue life, enabling it to continue flying after the 2013 season.


Project Description:

Cranfield Aerospace’s skilled team ‘reverse engineered’ a set of wing patches, reinforcing an area of the structure known to cause problems in service. This reverse engineering was essential, as original RAF data has been lost since the modification was developed in the 1960s.

The starting point was a set of poor-quality copies of the original installation drawings, without the detailed part drawings that they referred to. These detailed part drawings were the missing data needed to manufacture parts.

CAe’s first step was to organise 3D scanning of the existing wing leading edge. This provided geometry data for one surface of the first reinforcing plate. CAe then overlaid the required outline onto this shape, producing geometry for the complete part. This then allowed the geometry for the second layer of reinforcing to be defined. The team then turned this into a set of detailed drawings and 3D data to enable new components to be produced. These produced a set of four large, double-curvature, strengthening patches. All work was carried out in accordance with CAe’s UK design approvals.

The final design pack was delivered on time and within budget, allowing XH558 to continue flying throughout 2014 and 2015.



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XH558 Abingdon 2011

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