HC Deb 24 June 1968 vol 767 cc5-8
8. Mr. Frank Taylor

asked the Minister of Technology what estimate he has made of the lateral noise of the Concorde on take-off compared with existing types of jet aircraft.

The Minister of Technology (Mr. Anthony Wedgwood Benn)

We cannot expect final confirmation of the complex noise level assessments involved until Concorde has flown. Our objective is to see that Concorde should be within the noise limits of existing aircraft, and we believe this to be achievable.

Mr. Taylor

Is it not most important for the Government to indicate what they consider to be a tolerable amount of noise so that designers can endeavour to work within this tolerance? If the Government have not yet made up their minds on what the maximum will be, will they do so quickly and let the industry know?

Mr. Benn

If the hon. Gentleman studies my Answer, he will see that I am not very far away from what he wants. The noise certification scheme, which has been generally agreed, cannot be applied to aircraft already under development. An improved engine silencer programme is being worked on and we are hoping that the parameters of lateral engine noise on take-off will be within the limits of existing aircraft.

Mr. Robert Howarth

When is the Concorde expected to start its flight trials?

Mr. Benn

I think there is another Question on that subject.

45. Mr. Rankin

asked the Minister of Technology if he will make a statement of the effect which recent strikes in France have had on the estimated date of Concorde's initial flight.

14. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Minister of Technology on what dates he now expects the first Concorde aircraft under construction in France and at Filton to make their first flights.

Mr. Benn

Just before the recent strikes in France, the manufacturers' forecasts were that both aircraft would fly some time between the second week in September and the third week in November. The effects of the strikes on these forecasts are currently being assessed: they seem bound to set the French-assembled prototype back by some weeks, but I cannot be more specific at the moment.

Mr. Rankin

Could my right hon. Friend at least assure us that the initial flight of the British Concorde will not be determined by the length of industrial strikes in France?

Mr. Benn

I can assure my hon. Friend that the first flight of the British or French Concorde will be neither advanced nor set back by any decision of mine. It is a technical decision, involving a number of complicated issues, including the instrumentation programme. It is bound to have some effect, since there is no French or British Concorde —both are identical aircraft, assembled in different countries.

Mr. Fortescue

Can the Minister tell the House whether it is a fact that the first flight of the British-assembled Concorde will be set back as a result of difficulty in obtaining parts which are manufactured in France and which are being delayed because of the strike?

Mr. Benn

I cannot be specific, but I think that the House will appreciate that since components for both these first aircraft come from both countries, any industrial dispute, either in France or the United Kingdom, would be bound to have some effect upon flight programmes. I very much hope that this delay will not be serious.

Mr. Ellis

Has not this co-operation been very good throughout and would it not be deplorable if this co-operation were to be impaired by any nationalistic claims from one side or the other? Would my right hon. Friend reiterate the fact that the decision will be taken on a technological basis, and, as this is a co-operative venture, it does not matter which aircraft flies first, but that it is the project which counts, and it is a joint project?

Mr. Benn

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for expressing that view which reflects the view of those actually doing the work in Bristol and Toulouse, and if it is any comfort to the House, whichever plane flies will be 50 per cent. British on its first flight.

Mr. Corfield

Yes, but while appreciating the point which the right hon. Gentleman has made, may I put it to him that what we are trying to get from him is that there is no question of either being held up while waiting for the other? That is what we want to know.

Mr. Benn

There will be no decision by me which would hold up at all the 002 being built in Bristol, but as both aircraft, as the hon. Gentleman knows very well, are entirely interdependent, I cannot guarantee that some delay at Toulouse might not affect the flight programme of the prototype 002 from Bristol.

46. Mr. Goodhart

asked the Minister of Technology what estimate he has made of the increased cost of the Concorde project following the recent strikes in France.

Mr. Benn

It is not practicable to isolate the direct effect of the French strikes on the total cost of the Concorde project, but it is likely to be small in the context of the programme as a whole.

Mr. Goodhart

Is the Minister in a position to refute the suggestion that the French strikes will increase the cost of Concorde by at least £250,000 per aircraft?

Mr. Benn

We have not calculated this ourselves, and indeed I think it would be very difficult to calculate it till there is a final settlement of the dispute involving workers in Toulouse, but when we talk of escalation of aircraft projects, as the hon. Gentleman knows, time is money, and if anything sets back a project then it tends to increase the cost. However, I have not studied the figures and I cannot therefore confirm or deny the figure he has mentioned.

Mr. Robert Howarth

Can my right hon. Friend say whether work has been resumed in France on the Concorde?

Mr. Benn

I am afraid I do not know what the position is on this, but I understand there is still some delay.