HC Deb 04 February 1959 vol 599 cc386-7
29. Mr. Russell

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation the prospects of installing fog-dispersal equipment at London Airport, even on a limited scale; what views have been expressed to him about this by airline operators; and if he will make a statement.

69. Mr. de Freitas

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation what research he is undertaking into fog dispersal; and how far in this research he is co-operating with the Secretary of State for Air and the Minister of Supply.

Mr. Hay

Research carried out by the Ministry of Supply indicates that the most promising method of fog dispersal is the thermal one known as F.I.D.O. We are therefore collaborating with the Ministry of Supply in tests with a new type of F.I.D.O. installed for this purpose at an R.A.F. aerodrome. This is a high pressure system with a new type of burner which it is hoped will be more economical in operation.

No views on F.I.D.O. have been expressed to us by operators within the last two years. It would he premature to make a statement until the trials have been completed and the results studied in consultation with the airlines likely to be concerned.

Mr. Russell

Can my hon. Friend give details of the cost of this new system of operation and, if it is expensive, is there any hope at some time in the future of atomic energy coming to the rescue?

Mr. Hay

I should like notice of the last part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question. The purpose of this experiment is to see whether we can achieve a more economic system than the old one. I would hesitate to say anything to the House other than that it is a pretty expensive form of fog dispersal.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

While it may be expensive, has the Minister made any estimate of the loss to airlines and to passengers as a result of fog in recent weeks? Is not that a vast sum?

Mr. Hay

The hon. Member for Govan (Mr. Rankin) has a Question on the Order Paper about loss to airlines. We believe that British European Airways calculates that it has lost about £200,000 recently. The F.I.D.O. system, I would emphasise, is extremely expensive both to install and to operate.

Mr. Beswick

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this answer is precisely the same as that given over the last four or five years? May I ask whether it is a fact that we still look to F.I.D.O. as being the aid for landing in fog or whether there is the possibility that automatic landing equipment will be the solution to the fog problem?

Mr. Hay

I do not think that automatic landing equipment will be the complete solution because, although it will bring aircraft down on the runway and continue for a certain distance, and although F.I.D.O. can provide a clear area, there still remains the problem of the wall of fog into which the aircraft would have to run before getting to the apron.

Mr. de Freitas

When the hon. Gentleman says he has had no report from or any contact with operators, is this because he has not asked them or got in touch with them?

Mr. Hay

I meant that we have had no contact with the operators in respect of estimates of loss as a result of fog. We certainly have constant consultations with them about these methods of fog dispersal.