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Wed, 4 March 2020

Aerobility to Expand Fleet with Former MOD Vigilant T1 Gliders

The MOD’s Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) organisation has sold 63 decommissioned Vigilant T1 aircraft to Aerobility, an UK-based charity which provides flying experiences to those with disabilities and injured ex-military personnel.

The first batch of 10 motor gliders will be modified and refurbished by German company GROB Aircraft SE – the original manufacturer and Design Authority – to meet civil certification standards.

The remaining aircraft will be engineered and recertified in the UK, where the charity has identified a qualified engineering partner in Southern Sailplanes, based in West Berkshire.

Hampshire-based Aerobility will initially more than double its fleet with eight Vigilants thanks to a grant from the Department for Transport (DfT); meaning they will be able to help about 2,600 people into the air every year compared to 1,000 currently.

Vigilant T1 motor gliders have been used to train thousands of RAF Air Cadets. Click to enlarge.

Clive Walker, head of the Defence Equipment Sales Authority (DESA) in DE&S, said, “I am very pleased to see the RAF Vigilant T1 gliders move on to a new lease of life, in particular supporting the excellent work of Aerobility in creating flying experiences and opportunities for those who might otherwise never get the chance to fly.”

Glider modifications will include new engines, propellers and refurbished cockpits, and the charity hopes the first glider will be ready to fly in the summer of 2021.

Aircraft that aren’t used for flights will be refurbished and sold to generate revenue for the charity, pay for the ongoing costs of their operational fleet and help them branch out into other parts of the British Isles.

Aerobility’s CEO, Mike Miller-Smith MBE, said, “Acquiring these aircraft will help us transform the lives of an even greater number of disabled people by giving them the unrivalled sense of freedom through the magic of flight. We are extremely grateful to the Ministry of Defence, Department for Transport and our various partners for supporting us in this ambitious project. Not only will it help us build capacity for our future operations, it will enable us to expand the charity to support more disabled people and to do so at additional locations around the UK.”

The sale will create four full-time engineering jobs, one project management role and one administration position at the charity. They will also need a full-time co-ordinator and a part-time flying instructor, with all positions being filled by candidates with a disability where possible.

Making a Difference: Aerobility The British Flying Charity for Disabled People (30 Jan 2020)

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