HC Deb 29 June 1959 vol 608 cc27-9
52. Mr. Dodds

asked the Minister of Supply what progress is being made in the development of the Fairey Rotodyne helicopter airliner; what prospects there are of it being used in inter-city travel in this country; and in what way Government Departments are helping the manufacturers to overcome inevitable difficulties of production at this stage.

Mr. Aubrey Jones

Earlier this year the Rotodyne prototype set up a world speed record for convertiplanes, and it has just been successfully demonstrated at the Paris Air Show, Brussels and to SHAPE. British European Airways has indicated its intention of buying Rotodynes, subject to agreement on final specification and financial terms, with a view to operating inter-city helicopter services; and there is keen interest among overseas operators. As I announced to the Press on 5th March, I reached agreement with the Fairey Aviation Company some time ago on the extent of further Government support for this project. As my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence announced on 3rd June, the possibility of a military requirement is being examined.

Mr. Dodds

Has the right hon. Gentleman anything to say about the dissatisfaction of aircraft firms, including the manufacturers of the Rotodyne, at the poor support given by this Government, in contrast to what has happened in other countries? Will he say when this so-called Government of businessmen will really wake up and do something to help aircraft manufacturers, particularly in this matter?

Mr. Jones

That question is rather removed from the original Question on the Order Paper, but I think it is entitled to this answer: certainly Government support for the aircraft industry is a matter of considerable moment and importance, but I believe that the hon. Member would be deluding himself if he thought that the troubles of the aircraft industry were due entirely, or even mainly, to the paucity of Government support.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Will my right hon. Friend also bear in mind that those who live near the place where the Rotodyne is being made are concerned about the noise which it makes when it is in the air? In developing this contract, will he take steps to see that every possible effort is made to silence the engines of this machine?

Mr. Jones

My Department is cooperating with the company in an endeavour to find a solution to the noise problem.