§ 29. Commander SOUTHBY
asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air what is the date of the design of the life-saving parachutes now used in the Royal Air Force; at what minimum height they are considered to be effective; whether any new or more efficient parachute is under consideration; if so, at what height it is effective; and whether it is intended to supply the new type to the Royal Air Force without delay?
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for AIR (Mr. Montague)
I am glad the hon. and gallant Member has put this question as it enables me, on behalf of my Noble Friend, to deny emphatically the allegation, which has appeared in a 1961 certain newspaper, that the parachutes used by the Royal Air Force are obsolete and are not safe under 800 to 1,000 feet. As regards the first three parts of the question, the parachute now used was originally designed about 1922 and is standard equipment in the air forces of at least 17 countries and is extensively employed in civil aviation. It is difficult to state definitely the minimum height at which it will certainly be effective as this depends, among other things, on the velocity at which the aircraft itself may be falling; hut on two occasions these parachutes have saved life in drops from as low as 150 feet. The Air Ministry is always alive to the possibility of an improved type of parachute, but in its existing form the present standard type is more efficient and effective than any of the other types which have been examined since its introduction. The last two parts of the question do not therefore arise.
§ Commander SOUTHBY
Has the attention of the Under-Secretary been specifically called to the new type of parachute which was recently tried at Brook-lands?
§ Mr. MONTAGUE
The statement made in the newspaper to which I have referred is the only one of which I have heard recently, and that was dealt with by the Air Ministry over 18 months ago and turned down.
§ Captain Sir WILLIAM BRASS
There was a test of a parachute recently at Brooklands. That is what my hon. and gallant Friend has in mind.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE
Can the Under-Secretary assure the House that new types are being constantly experimented with and tried?