HC Deb 03 April 1917 vol 92 cc1101-2

(by Private Notice) asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that the aeroplane known as R.E. I has proved spirally unstable; whether it is true that while taking deliveries of these machines at Coventry fifteen machines were smashed; whether civilian testing pilots have refused to fly this type of machine; whether it is true that in spite of the fact that this machine has proved a complete failure in France, a contract has been placed for 1,500 of them; and whether, under these circumstances, he is prepared to cancel this order and to withdraw this machine both from active service and in peace time?


This type of aeroplane has not been proved to be spirally unstable. On the contrary, it has satisfied every test by the Technical Comptroller since the formation of the Air Board and by the technical experts of the Royal Flying Corps before the formation of the Board. General Brancker, moreover, crossed the Channel on the first machine of this type to go to France. He saw it tested there also, and it is to-day the type of machine which is used by General Trenchard and his staff for their own special work. It is being used with success there, and the Expeditionary Force is asking that the supply may be expedited. In these circumstances, it is not proposed to cancel the orders placed. I am informed that it is not an easy machine to fly and that it requires the skill of an experienced pilot. I have no knowledge of the refusal of any civilian pilot to fly it, but I think it right to state that some young officers—six, I think—did object to do so. The answer to the second part of the question is in the negative.


rose—[HON. MEMBERS: "Order! Order!"]


If the hon. Member remains standing when the Deputy-Speaker is standing, I shall have to ask him to leave the House.