HC Deb 25 March 1964 vol 692 cc436-9
4. Mr. Driberg

asked the Minister of Aviation if he will publish in HANSARD figures showing the number of persons killed in accidents involving aircraft flown by British operators in each of last 10 years, to the latest convenient date; how many were killed in aircraft flown by publicly-owned Corporations and how many in aircraft operated for private profit; and if he will publish further figures relating the fatal accidents, in each category to the number of miles flown by publicly and privately-owned airlines.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Aviation (Mr. Neil Marten)

As the Answer includes a number of figures, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Driberg

Without having seen these figures, but knowing their general trend from figures that have been released before, may I ask the hon. Gentleman whether he would agree that there is clearly a causal connection between the high accident rate and the inevitable pressures of the commercial motive?

Mr. Marten

There are reasons for all accidents happening, but we must not be misled by straight figures because there is such a variety of factors which go to make up accidents.

Mr. Cronin

Is not the real problem that charter flying, which is done largely by the independent companies, is about 10 to 20 times more dangerous than flying with the Corporations? Is it not the case that the Government have completely failed to take steps to ensure that charter flying is made safer?

Mr. Marten

I disagree with the hon. Member's assessment because it must depend on the basis on which one calculates the ratio of danger. But clearly the highest accident point is take-off and landing, and it is true that charter flight aircraft make more take-offs and landings in relation to the whole than the scheduled flights.

Mr. Rankin

We have been asking questions about this apparent frequency of accidents—[HON. MEMBERS "Question."] Is the hon. Gentleman aware that we have been asking questions of this sort for quite a long while and that we have been getting much the same answer from him? What advance is being made in finding an answer which will satisfy all of us that accidents on the private lines are not more frequent than those on the public ones?

Mr. Marten

I am sure that the whole House is concerned about any accident which happens, whether it concerns a private company or public Corporation. We are doing all that we can. There is the Flight Safety Committee which studies all accidents and disseminates the

Calendar year Total number of persons killed Number killed in Corporation Aircraft Number killed in Independent Operators Aircraft
1954 96 96 0
1955 16 15 1
1956 91 32 59
1957 114 30 84
1958 99 57 42
1959 46 0 46
1960 3 0 3
1961 102 27 75
1962 125 1 124
1963 0 0 0
1964 (up to 10th March) 83 0 83
TOTALS 775 258 517

results. We have set up recently the Operations Analysis Group to study the take-off and landing of aircraft. Therein we might hope to find a solution.

Sir S. McAdden

Would my hon. Friend agree that it is pretty disgraceful that these allegations should be made about charter companies which are subject to the same safety regulations as the Corporations? Is it not obvious that charter companies which operate with a full payload must, if unfortunately they have an accident, have a greater number of casualties than the other companies whose aircraft are flying half empty?

Mr. Marten

Those are two of the general factors which must always be taken into account. I urge the House to treat these bare figures with reserve, although I share the concern about them.

Mr. Driberg

If we are not to believe or to take any notice of what the hon. Gentleman called the "straight" figures, which I take it are those which he will put in HANSARD, what are we to believe? Are statistics of no use at all?

Mr. Marten

I did not say that they were not to be believed, because they are figures which we are giving to the House. They are clearly to be believed. But all these things have to be weighted in assessment, and until all the factors are brought into account I think that we should treat these figures with reserve.

Following is the answer:

(Moving five year totals)
Financial Years* B.O.A.C. and B.E.A Private Companies†
Number of fatal accidents Number of fatal accidents per 100 million aircraft miles Number of fatal accidents Number of fatal accidents per 100 million aircraft miles
1953/54–1957/58 [...] 10 3.2 8 5.4
1954/55–1958/59 9 2.7 10 6.2
1955/56–1959/60 8 2.1 12 6.9
1956/57–1960/61 7 1.7 10 5.4
1957/58–1961/62 6 1.3 12 6.0
1958/59–1962/63 4 0.8 10 4.9
* This table has been based on financial years because this is the only basis on which statistics of non-scheduled operations by private companies before 1961–62 are available. Progressive five year periods have been used to smooth out sharp fluctuations in the rates from year to year.
† Two accidents, one in 1958 and the other in 1960, on non-scheduled services operated by private companies who were not members of the British Independent Air Transport Association have been excluded from the table because non-scheduled operating statistics for the periods prior to 1961–62 are available in respect of B.I.A.T.A. members only. It is not thought that the inclusion of these accidents and their associated operating statistics would materially alter the picture.