Thursday, 29 October 2015

Who'd have though a bomber could be grounded by forgetting?

In stories about yesterday’s final flight of the Vulcan bomber, a small detail caught my eye. 

As reported in the Daily Telegraph, The Vulcan To The Sky Trust, which brought the 55-year-old aircraft back to flight eight years ago, has accepted advice from supporting companies that they no longer have the expertise to keep it airworthy as engineers retire from the industry.” 

Perhaps it is not surprising that there are few people employed nowadays with the right knowledge to keep a now obsolete aircraft flying.  What is surprising however, is that for younger aircraft still in service, there remains this issue of experienced engineers retiring and the risk associated with that.

I have written before about Knowledge Retention and Transfer programmes and how companies are using them to address this risk.  What I haven’t stressed before is that even this initiative is a ‘sticking plaster’ solution.

A longer-term, enduring approach is one that does not let engineers get anywhere near retirement age with all that valuable knowledge locked inside their heads.  That knowledge is not theirs alone since it has been created and accumulated on their employers’ time and with the help of their colleagues.  It should be treated as such.

This means recognising that knowledge is an asset and developing knowledge management frameworks to manage it accordingly.

Come visit the Knoco website to find out more.


  1. Precisely! However, unless there is a national strategy to expand our manufacturing base, aeronautic, marine, military and civil, there cannot be any practical application of the accrued knowledge.

  2. The Civil Aviation Authority cannot allow the aircraft to fly without support from its manufacturer or equivalent capable body. Support for the Vulcan was pulled as a collective decision by BAE Systems, Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group, and Rolls-Royce. Without this support, the plane cannot fly. :(

    1. Yes, my blog was pointing out that this decision to withdraw support is because these companies no longer have the knowledge needed, because it has not proven cost-effective to retain it. That said, many organisations (including the ones you mention) fail to invest in the retention of critical knowledge even of current capabilities and find themselves at the whim of expensive (ex-employee) contractors, because they allowed the knowledge to walk out the door....