HL Deb 12 August 1966 vol 276 cc1924-5

11.13 a.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the second Question which stands in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government:—

  1. (1) whether they will instruct the Civil Aviation Flying Unit examiners to adopt a more flexible attitude when asked to carry out flying tests after 5.00 p.m. or at week-ends, and thus help to relieve the acute shortage of qualified pilots, and
  2. (2) whether they will authorise chief flying instructors of approved flying schools to carry out general flying tests for the issue of commercial pilots' licences, thus relieving the pressure on the Civil Aviation Flying Unit examiners.]


The answer to the first part of the Question is, No, my Lords. The attitude of the flight examiners is not inflexible, and in fact they do frequently work after 5 p.m. The Unit itself suffers from the shortage of pilots. The staff are being used to the best advantage on the many tasks they have to perform. The waiting time for flight tests has been reduced from about three weeks to about seven to ten days in average conditions. Changes have been made in the test booking arrangements in order to make them more flexible, and further changes which will provide for provisional bookings will improve the situation still further. These should enable the candidate to arrange his test well in advance and as soon as possible after completing his training.

The answer to the second part of the Question is also, No, my Lords. Although tests for the renewal of licences and ratings have already been delegated to authorised examiners, it is essential that the initial test for professional pilots' licences should be conducted by the Board's flight examiners in order to ensure adherence to uniform standards; and I think everybody would agree with that. The Civil Aviation Department is, however, considering whether it is possible to ease the present problem by combining the general flying test with the flying test for the instrument rating. This method is about to be tried out and, if satisfactory, will be made general.


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord very much for his reply. It seems that these pilots get their tests rather more quickly than we motor drivers do.