HC Deb 05 May 1975 vol 891 cc991-2
3. Mr. Ashley

asked the Secretary of State for Trade when he proposes to give a substantive reply to the letter sent to him by the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South on 18th February about the conflict of view between the British Civil Aviation Authority and the United States of America Transportation Safety Board regarding the safety of the DC10 aircraft

The Secretary of State for Trade and President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Peter Shore)

I have nothing at present to add to my letter of 5th May to the hon. Member. I have been assured by the Civil Aviation Authority, which is responsible for aviation safety, that there is no conflict of view between it and the Federal Aviation Administration, the airworthiness authority of the United States of America, to which recommendations about the safety of the DC10 have been made by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Mr. Ashley

I appreciate the reason for the delay and I also appreciate the trouble that my right hon. Friend has taken to reply as fully as he has. Nevertheless, is he aware that I cannot understand how an assurance can be given to him that there is no conflict between the Americans and our Civil Aviation Authority? The Americans have specifically called for DC10 floors to be strengthened, and the Civil Aviation Authority has not strengthened the floors of the British DC10s. Will my right hon. Friend call for a meeting between the American and British officials to sort out this problem?

Mr. Shore

The situation is as I have explained to my hon. Friend. The CAA and the FAA are really in very close contact indeed on the question of the safety of the DC10. As my hon. Friend will well recall, the first and most pressing problem was the door of the DC10, which had to be put right, and the CAA certainly satisfied itself that the changes proposed by the FAA had been carried out in respect of British DC10s. Where the matter rests now is that during the intervening months we have had these disturbing reports from the United States about the strength of the body of the wide-bodied aircraft, and it was because of that that I specifically requested the CAA, only last month, to put to our own Airworthiness Requirements Board the very question whether, in the light of these further reports and evidence, it was still satisfied that it was safe to fly the DC10. It is only having received the board's assurance that. having reviewed the matter, it adhered to that view, that I myself am inevitably content with what I believe to be expert and, indeed, impartial advice.

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