HC Deb 07 November 1957 vol 577 cc311-2
Mr. Leather (by Private Notice)

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he is in a position to make a statement on the Britannia crash at Downend, near Bristol, yesterday.

The Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation (Mr. Harold Watkinson)

Yes, Sir. I regret to inform the House that just before noon yesterday, the prototype Britannia 300, G-ANCA, while approaching to land at Filton after a development test flight, crashed about 4 miles south-east of the aerodrome. The aircraft was almost completely destroyed. All 15 occupants were killed. Some houses were damaged and a few people on the ground were injured.

The Chief Inspector of Accidents is conducting a detailed investigation.

I am sure that the House will wish to join with me in expressing deep sympathy with those who have been bereaved or have suffered as a result of this accident.

Captain Corfield

Would my right hon. Friend please associate with his expressions of sympathy my constituents, whose prosperity so greatly depends on the future of this very great aircraft?

Mr. Watkinson

I believe that this accident happened in my hon. and gallant Friend's constituency. I shall be very pleased to do that.

Mr. G. Brown

I should like, on behalf of my right hon. and hon. Friends, to associate ourselves very sincerely with the sympathy that the Minister has expressed. We reserve any further questions until he has received the report, but there are some things connected with this aircraft about which we should like to talk to him.

Mr. Watkinson

The right hon. Gentleman will know that there is nothing more I can say at the moment. The investigation will be detailed and exact, and I shall be only too pleased to keep the House informed.

Sir A. V. Harvey

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that this aircraft is a new, large type, having started from scratch? Will he, in the meantime, do everything he can to encourage the workers and those employed at Bristol's to continue with this great project and to overcome the difficulties, which I am sure they can do if given the chance?

Mr. Watkinson

Nothing I have said implies any loss of confidence in this aircraft. This particular aircraft was, of course, an aircraft flying under test and trial conditions and, I want to make it plain, not as a passenger aircraft or carrying passengers of any kind.

Mr. Coldrick

May I, as the Member for the constituency district in which the aircraft crashed, join in expressing our sympathy with the families and relatives of those killed in the unfortunate accident, and at the same time, maybe, express to the Bristol Aeroplane Company the hope that the unremitting efforts and sacrifices that have been made will soon be crowned with success and will enable the Company to bring forward a plane which will be free from the accidents which have so far beset the Britannia?