HC Deb 06 May 1963 vol 677 cc26-8
41. Mr. Goodhew

asked the Minister of Aviation whether he has yet arrived at a decision on the engines to be used in the Armstrong Whitworth 681 military transport aircraft.

Mr. J. Amery

No, Sir.

Mr. Goodhew

Is not my right hon. Friend aware that the works responsible for producing this aircraft is anxious to have a decision at the earliest possible date and that we cannot go on having delays in these important requirements for Service aircraft? Has my right hon. Friend considered the possibility of using Rolls-Royce engines?

Mr. Amery

I assure my hon. Friend that there is no cause for anxiety in this matter. Both engine companies, Rolls-Royce and Bristol Siddeley, are in touch with Hawker Siddeley, the airframe manufacturers, at this stage, and the selection of an engine will be made in perfectly good time to fit in with the development of the aircraft.

Mr. Healey

But is it not a fact that five years have now elapsed since the operational requirement for this aircraft was first defined? In view of the extreme shortage of transport aircraft for the Armed Services at the moment, can the Minister justify this long delay?

Mr. Amery

The irrelevance of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question passes belief. The airframe can be completed only within a certain time scale, and there is still plenty of time within that time scale for us to deliberate on the choice of engine.

Mr. Eden

Will my right hon. Friend agree that the important consideration in the timing of these orders is the attempt to maintain in being the existing design teams and teams of men who have been working on them, and does he realise that it is for this reason that the company is so anxious to get a firm order as quickly as possible?

Mr. Amery

This consideration is very much in our minds. The view of Hawker Siddeley, the company responsible for the airframe, must also be carefully taken into consideration in deciding which engine is best suited to the aircraft in question. We still have some time in which to make the decision.

Mr. MacDermot

Is the Minister aware that there is growing concern among workers in the aero-engine industry at the uncertainty of their future? Is this also a factor which he will take into account in trying to reach an early decision?

Mr. Amery

I assure the hon. and learned Gentleman that this is a factor very much present in my mind. It is a matter of uncertainty at the moment and not more than uncertainty where they are concerned. There is still time to deliberate on this decision and make sure that we get the best engine for the airframe so that the Royal Air Force may have the best possible aircraft.

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