HL Deb 28 July 1965 vol 268 cc1316-7

3.36 p.m.


My Lords, with your Lordships' permission, I should like to make a Statement similar to one which is being made in another place on the findings of the Board of Inquiry into the accident to a Hastings aircraft of the Royal Air Force on July 6, and on the action which is being taken following the Inquiry.

"The Board have found that the loss of control which caused the aircraft to crash was due to the failure of the two upper attachment bolts of the starboard outer elevator out-rigger. Subsequent tests at Harefield Laboratories and the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough, have shown that the failure was one of fatigue.

"The Ministry of Aviation and the manufacturers have made a thorough investigation of the Hastings control system and have defined certain work which it is considered should be done on all Hastings aircraft before they are released for flying. It has been decided to return to the manufacturers in this country, or to suitable centres overseas, for reconditioning and modification, all elevators, tailplanes, fins and rudders. While the aircraft are grounded, the opportunity is also being taken by the Service to carry out special checks for any other defects, and remedial action will be taken if necessary. In parallel with this work, and as a precautionary measure, the manufacturers are making a separate study of the general structure of the aircraft to enable them to give an assurance on its safety for the remainder of its life.

"I cannot say at this stage exactly how long the necessary remedial work will take; but the first aircraft should be flying again within a few weeks and the whole programme should be complete in about two months.

"A detailed study has been made of the effect of the temporary withdrawal of the Hastings on our operational and training capabilities. The main impact is on our training programme which will have to be temporarily curtailed in a number of ways. By means of a re-allocation of priorities and increased chartering, additional transport aircraft have been made available for our air forces overseas and this will enable them to meet their operational commitments. Transport Command are proud of the standards that have enabled their scheduled services to achieve probably the finest airline safety record in the world, and everything possible will be done to maintain these standards."


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his Statement. It fell to me three weeks ago to join the noble Lord in his expressions of sympathy for the relatives of those killed in this disaster. It now seems clear that at the time his Department took the proper precautions to prevent any possible repetition through a similar fault in this particular aircraft. Measures now set in hand seem to be a logical second stage in that prevention, while yet enabling the Hastings to return to its useful service without risking irreplaceable lives.