HC Deb 28 November 1951 vol 494 cc1492-4
17. Mr. Norman Dodds

asked the Minister of Civil Aviation what progress has been made in developing helicopter travel between the centres of large towns.

The Minister of Civil Aviation (Mr. John Maclay)

Helicopter travel between town centres involving flight over built-up areas must await the development of a helicopter with two or more engines.

Mr. Dodds

In view of the progress that has been made in the development of twin engine helicopters of the type which would be required for flying to large centres, will the Minister do everything possible to encourage the authorities of large towns to set about making plans for a development of this highly desirable form of transport as soon as possible when it is a practical proposition, which is not far off now?

Mr. Maclay

I am well aware of the potential importance of helicopter development, and I will see that the points made by the hon. Gentleman are borne in mind when considering facilities for the development of this form of travel.

Mr. Gerald Nabarro

Can my hon. Friend say whether the Bristol 173 has now completed its preliminary flight, and if so when operational machines will be available for inter-city communication in the United Kingdom?

Mr. Maclay

I think my hon. Friend is referring to the Bristol 171, which has not yet started its development flights with B.E.A. It is expected to start them quite soon. I am advised that the earliest date when the Bristol 173 will come into proper production is, at the best, 1955.

Group Captain C. A. B. Wilcock

Will the Minister consider the advisability of encouraging local authorities, in their planning for the future, to earmark alighting sites in their towns?

Mr. Maclay

I am fully alive to that point and it is under discussion.

Colonel Alan Gomme-Duncan

Would my hon. Friend not agree that, whereas in cities they have other forms of transport, this development should first be used between islands and between islands and the mainland?

Mr. Maclay

I am extremely conscious of the importance of this development to Scotland.

Mr. F. Beswick

Will the hon. Gentleman make sure that in the review of the aircraft programme indicated by the Minister of Supply, there will be no slackening but rather quickening of the development programme for helicopters?

Mr. Maclay

I have every reason to believe that those concerned are fully alive to the importance of this development, and I will bear the importance of the hon. Gentleman's remarks in mind.