HC Deb 19 November 1936 vol 317 cc1920-1

(by Private Notice) asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air whether he is in a position to make a statement about the British Airways liner which crashed near Gatwick Aerodrome in the early hours of this morning, and whether it is proposed to run the night mail service to Scandinavia to-night; and whether he is satisfied that the company have an adequate number of machines available for this night service.

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for AIR (Sir Philip Sassoon)

I regret to inform the House that at 3.38 this morning aeroplane G—AEOT, carrying the Scandinavian mail from Hanover to London, crashed seven miles south of Gatwick Aerodrome and that both of the pilots were killed. The wireless operator has been discharged from hospital; the engineer is still detained but is not dangerously injured. The whole of the mail has been salved intact. The aircraft was a Fokker F.12, belonging to British Airways, and was approaching to land at Gatwick under conditions of low cloud. I am not in a position to give any further details of the accident pending the investigation by the Inspector of Accidents. As regards the second part of the question, I understand that the company intends to maintain the regularity of the mail service and that the mail will run to-night, subject to the usual regard being paid to weather conditions. As regards the third part, I have no reason to believe that the company is not in a position to fulfil its obligations under the contract for this service. I would like to express my sympathy with those who are bereaved by this sad fatality.


Can my right hon. Friend tell the House whether the Gatwick Aerodrome is yet equipped with the Lorenz system for blind approaches, and, if not, what is the cause of the delay, and will he tell the House whether he considers it fair on the pilots concerned to ask them to fly to airports that are not equipped with this simple, elementary device?


The Lorenz system has been, recently completed at Gatwick Aerodrome, and when certain negotiations are completed, it will be put into operation by the owners of the aerodrome.


Can my right hon. Friend tell the House whether this company is receiving a subsidy from British funds; whether this and any other company so given a subsidy are permitted to use any such foreign made machines, and how long will they, while receiving a subsidy, be allowed to operate machines whose country of origin is not Great Britain?


The hon. and learned Member should put that question down.