HC Deb 31 July 1946 vol 426 cc929-30
14. Mr. Geoffrey Cooper

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation if he has any statement to make on the number and type of aircraft it is proposed to use on the Atlantic route of B.O.A.C. in place of the Constellation-taken off service; how long it is anticipated that they will be off the service; was there any clause in the contract of purchase to cover compensation for such an eventuality; and why these aircraft were purchased, in view of the technical and operational difficulties that this design of aircraft has continuously encountered, even before the purchase was made.

Mr. Ivor Thomas

As I stated in reply to the hon. and gallant Member for South Blackpool (Wing-Commander Robinson) on 17th July and to my hon. Friend the Member for Eccles (Mr. Proctor) on 24th July, I am unable to make a statement on the temporary grounding of the Constellations until the investigation now proceeding in America is complete. It is not proposed at present to provide alternative aircraft for use on the B.O.A.C. trans-Atlantic service. The answer to the third part of the Question is "No, Sir." The Constellations were purchased by B.O.A.C. because they were the most suit- able aircraft available for operation on the North Atlantic route and I cannot accept the statements or implications contained in the last part of the Question.

Mr. Cooper

May I ask the Parliamentary Secretary if the Minister is aware of the report which appeared in the Press recently made by the American Airline Pilots' Association, which stated: A majority of the pilots flying Constellations believe the planes definitely dangerous and unsafe for commercial airline use ''? Is he aware that similar reports were in circulation when the B.O.A.C. first proposed purchasing these aircraft? Is he still satisfied, therefore, as to the competence of the technical advisers of the corporation on matters of this kind?

Mr. Thomas

The B.O.A.C. pilots who have been flying these aircraft have expressed their complete satisfaction with them. We are fully aware of the reports to which the hon. Gentleman has referred, and we are satisfied with the technical advice given. These aircraft were ordered by airlines all over the world.

Wing-Commander Robinson

What steps have been taken, either by officials of his Department or of the corporation, to satisfy themselves of the airworthiness of these aircraft before making the purchase?

Mr. Thomas

We accepted the certificate of the American authorities, who have a very high reputation in this matter.