1958 Syerston Avro Vulcan crash
VX770 in flight
|Date||20 September 1958|
|Summary||Pilot error, structural failure|
|Site||RAF Syerston, Nottinghamshire
|Injuries (non-fatal)||3 (on ground)|
|Fatalities||7 (3 on ground)|
|Aircraft type||Avro Vulcan (prototype)|
|Flight origin||Hucknall airfield|
The 1958 Syerston Avro Vulcan crash was a military aviation accident that occurred in England on 20 September 1958 during an air show at RAF Syerston, Nottinghamshire when a prototype Avro Vulcan bomber crashed. All four crew on board and three people on the ground were killed.
On the day of the accident VX770 was flying from the Rolls-Royce airfield at Hucknall, with four crew on board, including a flight test engineer from Avro, carrying out performance tests on the Rolls-Royce Conway engines that had been fitted in place of the Sapphires and Avons originally fitted. During the course of the test-flight VX770 diverted to RAF Syerston to participate in the Battle of Britain day air show.
The Vulcan flew along runway 07 then started a rolling climb to starboard. During this manoeuvre the starboard wing disintegrated, resulting in a collapse of the main spar and wing structure. The Vulcan went into a dive with the starboard wing on fire and struck the ground. Three occupants of a controllers' caravan were killed by debris, all four of the Vulcan crew were also killed. Three servicemen who were in an ambulance were also injured by debris from the crash.
The official primary cause for the accident was a gross structural failure of the aircraft's main spar, which was confirmed by amateur footage, photographs and eyewitness accounts. The reason for the failure was not determined by the Board of Inquiry, but it was suggested that the main cause was that the pilot, upon performing the planned aerobatic display, exceeded the prototype's briefed speed and turning rate limits. Tony Blackman argues that the maintenance crew failed to properly inspect the aircraft for known issues with stress damage to the aircraft's leading edges and structural ribs, which had been observed in another prototype he had flown earlier.
- Blackman, Tony (2009). Vulcan Test Pilot: My Experiences in the Cockpit of a Cold War Icon. Casemate Publishers. ISBN 9781906502300. Retrieved 2012-12-17.
- Vulcan Mk 1, VX770: RAF Syerston, Notts, 20 Sept. 1958 Official incident report at The National Archives