HC Deb 01 February 1967 vol 740 cc489-90
18. Mr. Marten

asked the Minister of Aviation what engines will be installed in the SA330, SA340 and WG13 helicopters; and in which country the airframes will be built when orders are executed for French and British forces, respectively.

19. Mr. Ridley

asked the Minister of Aviation where the SA340 and the WG13 helicopters will be made.

Mr. Stonehouse

The SA330 will have the French Turmo engine. The final definition of the engine for the other two helicopters will be made about the middle of the year when the design studies are completed. Each country will make parts of each helicopter and will have a final assembly line.

Mr. Marten

Can the Minister say whether the engine for the SA330 is suitable for the Services? Can he give an assurance that it was not downgraded for the requirements of the Services simply to get a package deal?

Mr. Stonehouse

My information from the Ministry of Defence is that it meets its requirements extremely well.

Mr. Ridley

Is it not wrong to have an assembly line for each type of helicopter in each country? Would not the Minister agree that it would be much better to have one main contract for each helicopter, and allow the work to be shared out equally by means of sub-contracting?

Mr. Stonehouse

The production work will be shared so that we shall have efficiency in production lines, but I do not think that it will add appreciably to the cost if the final assembly is done either in Britain or in France according to where the aircraft is required.

Mr. Hastings

Is not there a real danger that after the two French projects are completed the French Government may decide to pull out, or at least are empowered to pull out, before the Westland project comes forward?

Mr. Stonehouse

I discussed this with my right hon. Friend and with M. Messmer a fortnight ago, and I think that the risks are very small indeed.