HC Deb 24 February 1964 vol 690 cc32-4

The following Questions stood upon the Order Paper:


To ask the Minister of Aviation if he will now announce his decision on the future of the Skyvan project.


To ask the Minister of Aviation what plans he has for the development of the Short and Harland Skyvan project.

The Minister of Aviation (Mr. Julian Amery)

With your permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a statement in reply to Questions Nos. 96 and 97.

Her Majesty's Government have decided to authorise Short Bros. & Harland Ltd., of Belfast, to proceed with the further development and initial production of their turbo-prop Skyvan aircraft. The cost is to be met from within the £10 million conditional grant already made available to the company by Her Majesty's Government and the Government of Northern Ireland.

The Skyvan is a small freighter which is particularly suitable for "bush" type operations. It has a box-shaped hold which can carry up to 18 passengers, or 3,500 lbs. of freight, for about 500 miles at a cruising speed of 170 m.p.h. The prototype of the Skyvan is now undergoing flight trials.

The progress of the Skyvan and the interest shown in it by a number of airline operators throughout the world have convinced Short Bros. & Harland Ltd. that there are good prospects of a market for this type of aircraft. We believe that its further development and production will make a useful contribution to employment in Northern Ireland.

Mr. McMaster

While welcoming my right hon. Friend's statement, may I ask how quickly Short Bros. & Harland will be able to go ahead with production of this aircraft and whether the statement covers production of aircraft for sale to those who have expressed an interest abroad, particularly in Alaska, Australia and South America?

Mr. Amery

The initial flying development programme on the prototype has not been held up pending a decision. Presumably, the firm can proceed with production as soon as originally planned. How many are produced, in response to orders, must depend on how firm the orders are.

Mr. Stratton Mills

Is my right hon. Friend aware that it will be a great boost to morale that he has given the go-ahead on this project? Can he say what is the number of design staff who will benefit by it?

Mr. Amery

The number of design staff is considerable, but I have not the actual number with me. The number on the production side will depend on the size of the orders.

Sir A. V. Harvey

While welcoming this announcement, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether he is satisfied that the £10 million will leave sufficient for the development of the Belfast? On the development of the Skyvan project, can my right hon. Friend say what development costs will be?

Mr. Amery

The firm is satisfied that it can cover the remaining development costs on Skyvan within the £10 million ceiling. I think that the cost is a little over £1½ million.