HC Deb 24 November 1960 vol 630 cc1310-1
41. Mr. de Freitas

asked the Prime Minister if he will instruct the Minister of Aviation and the Secretary of State for air to expedite their negotiations, including those with European air authorities, for joint civil and military air traffic control and a Standard system of air movement notification, both in the British Isles and in Western Europe generally.

Mr. R. A. Butler

I have been asked to reply.

In the airways and controlled airspaces over the United Kingdom, which extend generally to 25,000 feet, there is close co-ordination of the control of civil and military aircraft. All civil and military aircraft flying the airways system in the United Kingdom are under the control of civil air traffic control centres. Aircraft crossing the airways do so under agreed procedures or radar control.

So far as concerns the upper airspace, I understand from my right hon. Friends that we are already in the process of setting up joint control and that this will be completed over the whole United Kingdom airspace in 1961. This has not yet been done in other European countries, but my right hon. Friend the Minister of Aviation is expecting to sign the Eurocontrol Convention on behalf of Her Majesty's Government in Brussels next month.

A standard system of air movement notification prescribed by the International Civil Aviation Organisation is in operation throughout the United Kingdom and Western Europe.

Mr. de Freitas

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this progress is very welcome but that airline operators, most Service pilots and the Guild of Air Pilots have criticised the Government for being deplorably slow? Anything that the Government can do to press on with this matter will be most welcome, in view of the possibility of a very alarming disaster.

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir. Both through the United Kingdom and through Eurocontrol we propose to make progress. I have been glad to give the House the latest information.

Mr. Chetwynd

While the position in this country may be satisfactory and the position regarding civil aircraft in Europe may be satisfactory, is not there still grave conflict between the civil and military spheres in this respect?

Mr. Butler

That is also claiming the attention of my right hon. Friends who are principally concerned.

Mr. Rankin

Will the right hon. Gentleman impress on his two right hon. Friends the fact that there is widespread objection among pilots and others on the operating side against the continuing practice of military aircraft under military radar control crossing or going through airlines used by civil machines? They believe that this is a hazard to the civil aircraft and its passengers.

Mr. Butler

I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for what he has said. That is one of the hazards to which special attention is being given in this review.