HC Deb 03 March 1948 vol 448 cc361-2
Mr. A. Edward Davies

(by Private Notice) asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation whether he has any statement to make on the air liner disaster at London Airport last night.

Mr. Lindgren

My noble Friend and I are profoundly shocked at the disaster which happened to this aircraft last night. The House will desire me to express its deep sympathy with the relatives of those who lost their lives. Members of the staff of the Chief Inspector of Accidents were on the scene soon after the occurrence, and a preliminary investigation has already begun. The fullest inquiry will be made into the causes and circumstances of the accident.

Mr. Davies

Can the Minister say why this plane came into London Airport when so many other planes were diverted; or is it a matter for inquiry later?

Mr. Lindgren

In a case such as this the decision where a pilot will land rests with the pilot. It is the responsibility of those in control of the aerodrome to inform the pilot of the conditions at the aerodrome.

Mr. Bowles

Is it true that the pilot of the Sabena aircraft radioed to London Airport as he was crossing the coast, or soon after he had done so, that they would have to make a crash landing; or is the report on the B.B.C. this morning true, that only when they got to the airport was it found necessary to use Radar and other landing devices? Which was true?

Mr. Lindgren

I do not wish to prejudice any statements which are made at the inquiry, and I am certain my hon. Friend will appreciate that anything I say does not in any way prejudice the facts which will be established. My information is that the information was available to the airport that an accident was likely to happen, and all arrangements had been made. The manager of Sabena was, in fact, in the control tower at the time the aircraft arrived.

Mr. Assheton

Is it not most unfortunate that we should be discussing a matter which is sub judice?

Mr. Teeling

In foggy weather is the fog dispersal equipment F.I.D.O. still in use at aerodromes near London?

Mr. Lindgren

Not at London Airport; but it is at Blackbushe and Manston.