HL Deb 30 January 1947 vol 145 cc303-5

4.5 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to ask His Majesty's Government the following question of which I have given private Notice: Whether His Majesty's Government have yet received the Report of the Air Safety Board in regard to Dakota aircraft.


My Lords, your Lordships will be aware that in view of public anxiety arising out of the recent accidents to Dakotas, a statement was made by me to the inaugural meeting of the National Civil Aviation Consultative Council on Monday, and on the same day an answer was given by my Parliamentary Secretary to a private Notice question in another place, that I had already remitted to the Air Safety Board the question of the maximum permissible all-up weight at which Dakota aircraft should be operated. I would, however, point out to your Lordships, as was pointed out in these statements, that, so far as the United Kingdom is concerned, there has been no accident to Dakota aircraft attributable to overloading.

Last night I received the Air Safety Board's Report. With your Lordships' permission I propose to circulate a copy of the full Report with the Official Report, but your Lordships will wish to know the main recommendation. I now quote from the Report: Having examined the evidence put before it, the Board recommends in respect of the Dakota:—

  1. (a)The continued application of 28,000 lb. as the maximum permissible all-up weight. This weight, of course, implies that the aircraft is being operated from airfields adequate for its class and over routes related to its single engine cruising performance.
  2. (b)Initiation by Air Registration Board of an examination of the maximum permissible all-up weight which should apply at specific airfields and on particular routes.
  3. (c)Trials by Ministry of Supply to examine variations in performance at different all-up weights.
In accordance with the above recommendation, I have to-day invited the Air Registration Board to make as a matter of urgency, the examination recommended, and I have similarly communicated with the Minister of Supply. The Report indicates that the Air Safety Board had the advantage of the views of Air Marshal Sir Ralph Cochrane, the present Commander-in-Chief of R.A.F. Transport Command, the British Overseas Airways Corporation, the British European Airways Corporation, the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators of the British Empire and the British Air Line Pilots Association.

I should remind the House that the composition of the Air Safety Board is as follows: Air Chief Marshal Sir Frederick Bowhill, the first Commander-in-Chief of the R.A.F. Transport Command and at present my chief Aeronautical Adviser (Chairman); The Right Honourable the Lord Brabazon of Tara, Chairman of the Air Registration Board; Professor A. A. Hall, Chairman of the Civil Aircraft Research Committee of the Aeronautical Research Council, Zaharoff Professor of Aviation and Head of the Department of Aeronautics, Imperial College of Science and Technology and Air Vice Marshal Sir Conrad Collier, formerly Second-in-Command of the R.A.F. Transport Command and at present Director-General of Technical Services at my Ministry. Your Lordships will appreciate from the qualifications of the Members of the Air Safety Board, that that body speaks with the highest authority. I propose, therefore, to accept the recommendation of the Board, pending the results of the investigation to be undertaken by the Air Registration Board and the Ministry of Supply, when the position will be reconsidered.

[Following is the full Report referred to:]