HC Deb 06 March 1961 vol 636 cc7-8
8. Mr. Chetwynd

asked the Minister of Aviation whether the decision to base the future of a civil helicopter on the Belvedere replaces the decision to give a development contract for the Roto- dyne; how much has been spent by the Government on the Rotodyne up to date; whether the offer of £1,400,000 to British European Airways to put the Rotodyne into service still stands; and what financial arrangements have been made for the development and proving of the Belvedere.

18. Mr. Rankin

asked the Minister of Aviation if he is now prepared to develop a multi-engined transport helicopter suitable for inter-city use and for use between airports and cities.

Mr. Thorneycroft

No, Sir. Any arrangement I may consider for the civil version of the Belvedere could only be an interim stage in the evolution of an economic means of air transport between city centres. It would be contrary to normal practice to give details of payments under particular contracts.

Mr. Chetwynd

Will the Minister make clear that the Rotodyne is still the vehicle on which he is putting greatest emphasis in relation to future inter-city travel? If the question of noise cannot be dealt with, can be state whether he will agree to the Army taking over this helicopter for troop training? Can he say when we are likely to have a civil helicopter air service between, for example, Manchester and London and Birmingham and London?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I am afraid I cannot answer all those questions. I think the Rotodyne is the prototype nearest in the world to being economic as a helicopter, and it merits serious study to see whether we can deal with the noise and other factors and so warrant its introduction. I should not like to reply at the moment about the question of cost.