HC Deb 04 March 1964 vol 690 cc1304-5
39. Mr. Rankin

asked the Minister of Aviation if he will make a statement on the progress made to enable aircraft to take off and land in fog conditions.

Mr. Marten

The Mark 2 V-bombers and the Argosy aircraft now in service with the Royal Air Force are equipped with fully automatic landing systems. The Belfast will have a similar capability.

Fully automatic landing systems to meet the exacting safety standards for civil aircraft operations are being developed for the Trident and the VC10. An extensive programme of trials will be needed to prove the systems operationally but these aircraft and others fitted with fully automatic landing systems, should be able to operate from suitably equipped airports in poor conditions of visibility by 1969.

Mr. Rankin

May we take it, then, that the system which was long pursued—F.I.D.O.—has definitely been abandoned? Is the Minister aware that according to reports the Trident landed yesterday under automatic control? May we not expect that in civil aviation automatic control will be in operation a little earlier than 1969?

Mr. Marten

The first point is to be quite sure that it is absolutely safe. That is the reason for the delay. The system which is being used is based on that developed by the B.L.E.U. at R.A.E., Bedford.