RAF’s Vigilant motor-gliders to be scrapped

The RAF’s fleet of Vigilant T1 motor-gliders is likely to be scrapped following the grounding of all the aircraft in May.

The Vigilants, manufactured by German company Grob Aircraft, have been flown for almost 30 years but were grounded after concerns of their safety.

A report by British engineering company QinitiQ suggests that many of the training flights were logged as one flight when in fact there were multiple flights, meaning the aircraft’s fatigue life was unknown in some cases. Other problems have also been identified making a repair or renovation plan fraught with difficulties.

The Vigilant has trained thousands of pilots since it was introduced to the RAF in 1991, with many air cadets and instructors using the experience as a stepping stone to a career in aviation.

Flight Lieutenant Aaron O’Roarty, 645 Volunteer Gliding Service, said, “We always knew the Vigilant was nearing the end of her service but we expected this would not be as soon as it has been.

“There will be many a tear shed following her retirement and it’s an aircraft you had a passion and love for.”


  1. I flew them for 20 years – never had a problem. I would buy one now in a heartbeat and give it a thorough check. Bet she would fly for another 30 years. This is a whitewash.

  2. Completely agree, Milton. We never had any issues with the aircraft and was brilliant for the cadets to fly..

  3. I flew with a VGS for 16 years right up until the initial grounding. We always recorded flights accurately – why would we not? I suspected that a reason would be engineered to avoid the aircraft getting back in the air shortly before after auctioned off – I guess this is it. All done to avoid more embarrassment.

  4. Fatigue life? This is a composite airframe, – there is no “fatigue life” as on a metal structure. Someone is either gold-plating an already over cautious maintenance program, or looking for a way to replace them when they don’t need to be. More likely to be cockup than conspiracy, but still sad.

  5. Where did the information come from that they are to be scrapped and not sold on?

  6. I flew Vigilants with 616 Sqn at RAF Henlow and all flights were logged individually. I do not recalk ever making one entry for multiple flights.
    The person at QinitiQ talking about fatigue life is an idiot who blatantly knows little or nothing about composite airframes.
    This is a total disgrace and all of those involved in the grounding decision should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. They took the ‘Air’ out of Air Cadets.
    I have contaced the MOD several time regarding the possible purchase of one of these great aircraft, and each time have been given feeble excuses as to why they cannot sell them, the funniest one being that they could not be put on the civil register, What a load of bulls..t. Stange how they considered selling them to the Swedish Air Cadet Organisation!

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