HC Deb 10 May 1971 vol 817 cc21-2
30. Mr. Tebbit

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if, in order to establish the size of the air-miss problem, he will arrange that during a trial period no disciplinary action should be taken against reporting air misses regardless of blame attributed.

Mr. Anthony Grant

No, Sir. The present air-miss reporting and investigation procedure works effectively. There is no evidence that the possibility of disciplinary action deters pilots from reporting air misses.

Mr. Tebbit

It is my information from traffic controllers that it deters them from making such reports. There have been alarming incidents and a lot of alarmist speculation. Would not my hon. Friend agree that nothing but good could come out of an arrangement whereby controllers or pilots could report, knowing that they would not be subject to disciplinary action, to somebody who could then tell us whether there is anything in this alarming speculation?

Mr. Grant

I recognise my hon. Friend's considerable knowledge and experience of this matter, but the views which he has expressed are not entirely shared by all pilots. However, I will consider further with the pilots' organisations and the airline operators—with whom disciplinary action, if any, lies—what can be done further in this respect.

Mr. Leslie Huckfield

What was the reported number of air misses in United Kingdom air space last year and what does the hon. Gentleman suspect that the true figure should be?

Mr. Grant

I cannot give exact figures because it was only agreed last year that information about the number of reported air misses and the number of aircraft involved should be published. The survey for 1970 is expected to be published in September, 1971.

Mr. Mason

This is, of course, as we all understand, a voluntary reporting system, but since pilots, co-pilots, crew members, air traffic controllers and some passengers must know when an air miss takes place, it is hard to keep it secret. Can the hon. Gentleman reveal what disciplinary acts have been taken against pilots or controllers in recent months?

Mr. Grant

Not without notice.