Bomber will soar again this summer

But EU red tape is still pushing insurance costs sky-high

The future of the 'Sally B', the only operational B17 bomber, is still in doubt despite a recent reprieve from the EU Commission allowing the aircraft to fly at air shows this summer.

The Sally B, which featured in the film 'Memphis Belle', was grounded by new European regulations that have sent the warplane's insurance bills sky-high and make flying the aircraft prohibitively costly, given that it is funded by charitable donations from the public. The new regulation calculates the aeroplane's insurance bill on the basis of its take-off weight, which is similar to large commercial aircraft, yet the regulations do not take account of the restricted flying patterns of the vintage craft which is only in the air for around 20 hours per year and cannot fly over populated areas.

Rt. Hon. Sir Robert Atkins MEP, deputy leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament, helped to secure the agreement that will allow the aeroplane to fly over the summer but now he is seeking a permanent solution for the 'Sally B' and other similar vintage aircraft.

Sir Robert said:

"I'm glad that a short-term solution has been found to the problems faced by 'Sally B'. However, I do not think that the Commission has gone far enough in addressing the main issue that has been brought about by the implementation of this ill-conceived piece of legislation. Specifically I call on the Commission to address the issue of the removal of the "war risk" element of insurance for historic aircraft as soon as possible.

It is also important that the insurance industry displays an element of common sense and uses its discretion in setting the insurance premium for vintage aircraft. This should be done by taking into account that many such aircraft are rarely used and, as such, should be limited to a reduced level of insurance cover because of their limited flying activity."

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