HC Deb 12 February 1947 vol 433 cc344-7
15. Mr. William Shepherd

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation whether he intends to publish reports of air accidents involving British-operated planes; and how soon after any accident such reports may be expected.

18. Mr. Geoffrey Cooper

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation if, in view of the recent accidents to civil aircraft, he will ensure a more speedy publication of the causes, compared with the six months' delay which occurred in publishing the accident report on the B.E.A. Dakota operating the Northolt—Oslo service on 7th August, 1946.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation (Mr. Lindgren)

Unless for security or other reasons publication would be contrary to the public interest, my noble Friend proposes to publish the complete reports. By reason of the nature of the investigations it is impossible to say how soon after any accident the reports may be expected, but it is my noble Friend's intention that publication shall take place as rapidly as possible.

The accident to the British European Airways Dakota at Oslo on 7th August, 1946, was investigated by the Norwegian Authorities under the provisions of the Provisional International Civil Aviation Organisation and was attended by an accredited representative from the United Kingdom. The preparation of the report was a matter for the Norwegian Government.

Mr. Shepherd

Is the Parliamentary Secretary able to assure the House that, save in the circumstances he has mentioned, all these inquiries will be held in public?

Mr. Lindgren

That is the intention of my noble Friend so far as aircraft on the registration of this country are concerned. In the case of aircraft on the registration of other countries, my noble Friend is required to consult with the Government concerned prior to making his decision, and he will do that.

Mr. Cooper

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that on the occasion referred to in Question 18, although the causes of the accident were known within a matter of only three days of the accident occurring, the essential notices to airmen were not published for two and a half months? Will he see that in the case of the present accidents such delay does not occur?

Mr. Lindgren

So far as is humanly possible, yes, Sir.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Can the Parliamentary Secretary assure us also that future British inquiries will be judicial inquiries under legal chairmen with evidence taken on oath?

Mr. Lindgren

I cannot give that assurance.

Hon. Members

Why not?

Mr. George Ward

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that the result of the investigation into the crash of a York aircraft at Bathurst in August last year has not yet been made public and can he say when the result of that investigation is to be made known?

Mr. Lindgren

A report has been made by the inspector to my noble Friend and it is with him now. As soon as possible it will be published.

17. Mr. Peter Freeman

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation how many air crashes have occurred in this country during the past year; how many people have been killed and how many injured; what proportion each represents of the total number carried; and what further steps he proposes to take to prevent further accidents.

Mr. Lindgren

As the reply to the first three parts of the Question contains a number of figures, I will with permission circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

As regards the last part of the Question, my noble Friend has established the Air Safety Board to advise him from the highest technical level on all matters of safety. As I informed the hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Granville) on 4th February, the latest safety devices have been or are being adopted as equipment becomes available.

Mr. Freeman

Can my hon. Friend say whether any single factor, either mechanical or technical, operated in more than one case to cause these disasters?

Mr. Lindgren

That is an entirely different question.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Would not these figures, when published, show that British aviation is still far and away the safest in the world?

Mr. Lindgren

I am in entire agreement with that, Sir.

Mr. Rankin

In supplying the information, will my hon. Friend keep before him the fact that the third part of the Question lends itself to two interpretations, and would he say "what propor- tion each represents of the total number carried" by the planes involved? Will he keep in mind that point?

Mr. John Lewis

In view of the fact that, apart from crashes due to bad visibility, a large number of accidents have occurred in taking off when one engine failed in a two-engined aircraft, will my hon. Friend consult with his noble Friend to ensure that aircraft carrying civilian personnel are so designed that, if one

Number of Accidents. Passenger Casualties. Passengers carried (3) Percentage Deaths.
Notifiable. Fatal. Killed. Injured.
Foreign aircraft 2 1 11 1 N.A. N.A.
Corporation aircraft 1 1 4 7 N.A. N.A.
Other United Kingdom aircraft:
On regular services(1) 3 2 9 260,000 .0035
Other (2) 11 3 3 N.A. N.A.
Total, United Kingdom aircraft. 15 6 13 10 N.A. N.A.
N.A. = Not available.

(i) Internal services for which British European Airways Corporation took responsibility on Est February, 1947.

(2) Including Charter, miscellaneous commercial, test and private flying.

(3) Approximately 440,000 passengers were carried on the United Kingdom stage of overseas flights. Separate statistics for Corporation, Charter and foreign aircraft are not available. Of these passengers, one m 29,000 or.0034 per cent. were killed.