HC Deb 18 March 1968 vol 761 cc12-3
11. Mr. Onslow

asked the Minister of Technology what information he has from the German Government about Lufthansa's intentions with regard to the European airbus.

Mr. Stonehouse

The Governments of the United Kingdom, France and Germany entered into the Memorandum of Understanding on the first phase of the airbus programme in the expectation that their national airlines will support the programme, and we have assurances from the German Government that they will honour this agreement. Lufthansa is making a valuable contribution to the present work of detailed definition of the airbus project.

Mr. Onslow

If Lufthansa does not buy this aircraft, can it be sold in sufficient quantities to make it a profitable venture?

Mr. Stonehouse

That remains to be seen, but it is one of the firm conditions of the continuation of the project that the three airlines confirm their requirement and that between them they shall order 75 of the aircraft.

Mr. Rankin

Can my hon. Friend say if each of the Government's pledge themselves to purchase a specific number of aircraft?

Mr. Stonehouse

No, it is for the airlines to make their requirements known, but each of the participating States has undertaken to honour the agreement, which implies that the airlines will buy the airbus.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

Can the hon. Gentleman tell the House whether it lies within the power of the German Government to instruct Deutsche Lufthansa to purchase this aircraft and what happens if the directorate of Deutsche Lufthansa does not wish for technical or commercial reasons to do so?

Mr. Stonehouse

That is a domestic question for the Germans, but we have had these assurances from the Ministers concerned and I am content to rest on them.

17. Mr. Peter Mills

asked the Minister of Technology what market research has been carried out by his department among pilots and travellers on the question of the acceptability to them of a 300-seat aircraft with two engines.

Mr. Stonehouse

The decision to power the European airbus with two engines was taken in the light of all the relevant considerations, including safety, reliability and economy. I expect it to prove attractive to pilots and passengers alike.

Mr. Mills

Does the Minister realise that the Americans are insisting on three engines because of their problem of flying over the Rockies? With similar problems in Europe—for example, the Alps—would it not be safer and better, and certainly help in selling the plane, if we had three engines, too?

Mr. Stonehouse

The American airbus is being designed for a longer haul than the European airbus. European airlines generally are attracted by the design with the two-engined configuration.

Mr. Fortescue

What will happen if one of the engines flares out on landing or take-off with 300 passengers aboard?

Mr. Stonehouse

The safety requirements for a two-engined aircraft are identical to those for an aircraft with more power. I am satisfied that an aircraft of the two-engined configuration with a failure in one engine will not suffer from any extra hazard as against an aircraft with any additional power.