HC Deb 20 May 1953 vol 515 cc2063-4
37. Mr. Langford-Holt

asked the Minister of Civil Aviation what consideration has been given to the operation of amphibious helicopters between London Airport and the River Thames between London Bridge and Vauxhall Bridge.

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

I have examined a proposal on these lines with British European Airways, but have concluded that the limited value to be obtained from such experimental operations with existing types of fully developed helicopters would not justify the cost to public funds.

Mr. Langford-Holt

Would my hon. Friend say exactly what the difficulties are, because the use of such aircraft would do away with the use of one particular area, be it the South Bank or anywhere else, and thereby diminish the noise, as it would be distributed up and down the river, and all that is necessary is a series of piers?

Mr. Profumo

That is not quite the problem. We have as much experimental information as, I think, we can get on single-engined helicopters, and until there is a development of the twin-engined helicopter it would only be a waste of public funds to carry on this sort of service.

38. Mr. Dodds

asked the Minister of Civil Aviation what progress has been made in recent months in selecting sites for helidromes in London in connection with helicopter passenger travel.

Mr. Profumo

There have been further discussions, which are continuing, with the London County Council regarding the provision of a site suitable for a temporary airstop on the South Bank.

Mr. Dodds

In view of the fact that there has been excellent progress with the Bristol 173 for passenger services, cannot we see a little more evidence of intelligent anticipation and not wait until these things are actually flying about before sites are decided upon?

Mr. Profumo

It would be a considerable time before it would be possible to operate scheduled helicopter services to city centres. I assure the hon. Member, and, indeed, the House, that the development of a suitable airstop in the centre of London is being considered with this factor in mind.

Mr. Nabarro

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that in a few days' time the London—Birmingham helicopter service will again be started? Could he not obtain valuable data from this service in the matter of a central city site, notably in Birmingham?

Mr. Profumo

I should repeat that I do not believe we can get any further valuable data until we can produce the twin-engined helicopter.

Mr. Gibson

Are the sites to which the Minister referred on the old Festival site on the South Bank, on top of Waterloo Station?

Mr. Profumo

We have not got that far yet. It would be clearly impossible to decide where we should go or what sort of airstop is required until we know what sort of space is required by the twin-engined helicopter.

Mr. Dodds

Is it not a fact that the twin-engined helicopter has been experimenting in the air since February, 1952?

Mr. Profumo

It will not be until the end of this year or, possibly, the beginning of next year that B.E.A. will receive on loan from the Ministry of Supply a Bristol 173. When they have carried out their initial trials, we may be in a better position to get what the hon. Member and, I know, the whole House wish to know.