Back to life
In 2016 The Buccaneer Aviation Group (TBAG) agreed to return Shannon-based Atlantic AirVentures (AAV) Buccaneer S.2B XX897 to a live exhibit in return for her Spey engines and key spares.
XX897 first flew in 1976 and was used for Foxhunter radar trials (Tornado ADV), gaining its unique nose. Retired to Hurn in 1993 after 970 hours, it was owned by Source Classic Jet Flight and Quicksilver before sale by Christy Keane to AAV in 2012.
AAV operate a number of simulators for use in a variety of education programmes for young people, providing access and a passion for flight, whilst housing a collection of aircraft, cockpits, engines, and memorabilia.
Bruntingthorpe-based TBAG run XW544 and XX894, care for XX899 and newly acquired cockpit section XW550.
Spares always a focus, TBAG’s Dave Webber met AAV’s Jane Magill and Eddie Ryan in Shannon last year to examine XX897 and discuss collaboration.
To return XX897 to a working condition looked feasible. Some electrical and hydraulic systems could be refurbished and suitable equipment provided to demonstrate XX897. In return TBAG would remove the engines and spares and cosmetically make good XX897.
A pre-visit in January focussed on tyres and panel fixings.
“Fly-away” loading and work plans for the April party were developed. Being away from Bruntingthorpe, it was critical that TBAG took everything needed. In the event only a few minor items had to be locally sourced.
Before setting out TBAG made or refurbished –
• Mains powered TRU (Transformer Rectifier Unit) to allow electrical systems to run without an aircraft battery.
• A hydraulic rig.
• Wheel stands.
Transport was arranged for jacks and engine stands plus two vans for tools and crew.
The TRU was in place and powering some electrical systems during Day 1.
Engine removal met resistance from panel screws and mounting pins but both were out and loaded by Day 2.
Cockpit, some navigation and anti–collision lights were working by Day 2.
The anti-collision “strobe” lights were replaced by oscillating Grimes lamps (safer and easier to maintain). Chopped cables at the wing break necessitated a rewire to activate the wing tip navigation lights.
The Avery hydraulics connectors on XX897, requiring the use of C-spanners, were replaced with push-on quick-release connectors. Any concern regarding soundness of hydraulic seals was removed when it became clear XX897 was holding pressure.
Unique to XX897 are the lever positions to actuate bomb door and wing fold. They were re-located out of the cockpit into a main wheel bay and the bomb bay but were operable.
Day 4 saw the all moving tailplane, tailplane flap, ailerons, air brakes, hook and bomb bay rotation operational.
After partial movements of the wings to prime the system, they were lowered.
Disappointingly, the port wing would not raise, the rear latch pin failing to completely withdraw. It was removed, cleaned and re-installed, subsequently operating normally. A starboard wing hydraulics leak originating from an awkwardly located loose coupling was eliminated. The wing fold sequence was then successfully undertaken a number of times.
XX897 was fully demonstrated and handed over to AAV on Day 5 after 364 man-hours of work, equivalent to 38% of XX897’s flying time.
Future collaboration between AAV and TBAG is under discussion and XX897 is to be demonstrated at AAV’s Family Day in Shannon on September 24th.
XX897 BACK TO LIFE