WHEN the historic Vulcan bomber takes to the skies at this year’s Bournemouth Air Festival, it will be largely thanks to a Christchurch firm.

As reported by the Daily Echo last year, Beagle Technology Group, based at Stony Lane, won the work to carry out crucial modifications to the jet’s wings and also contributed to the aircraft’s upkeep.

Huge sums of cash are raised by operators Vulcan to the Sky Trust each year to keep the plane flying and the modifications to its wings will allow it to continue displaying until the end of the 2015 season.

The project, undertaken by some of Beagle’s most experienced aerospace fitters, took 16 weeks in all – eight of them working on the aircraft at its home in Doncaster.

Danny Greenslade, general manager of metallics at Beagle, said: “It was a huge challenge. It was a very complex shape on the leading edge where it was going.

“It took quite a few skins before we developed the process to get the skin right.

“We had to remove 900 rivets from each side. It was a great opportunity for the guys.”

Production manager Mike Colegate said that if one hole had been made out of place, the entire aircraft would have had to have a fresh review before being allowed to fly again.

The team included experienced fitters Malcolm Smith, 66, from Bournemouth, who worked for Beagle for 44 years before retiring recently.

Alongside him were Brian Hewitt, 65, from Christchurch, who has been with the firm for 25 years, and James Nash, 22, also from Christchurch, who started out on Beagle’s apprenticeship scheme six years ago.

Malcolm said: “It was interesting and an honour to be asked.

James added: “It was great to help keep it flying for another couple of years.”

The Vulcan is due to display the air festival, between August 28-31.