§ 2.43 p.m.
§ The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in view of the fact that England remains one of the most fog-bound countries in Europe, some suitable fog dispersal unit, burning natural gas, could be installed at one of our major airports, as, despite the advent of the electronic landing system, considerable delays to passengers and mail occurred last winter owing to fog.
§ Lord TREFGARNE
My Lords, the matter of suitable equipment for use at United Kingdom aerodromes to promote regularity and safety of operations comes within the responsibility of the Civil Aviation Authority. However, as the noble Lord will recall, studies were conducted in the early 1970s into the possi- 1128 bility of developing a fog dispersal system similar to the FIDO system used during the 1939–45 War. Use of natural gas as a fuel was included in these studies. The conclusions reached were that the installation and running costs of such a system, however fuelled, would be too high and there would be unacceptable safety hazards. I understand that there are no indications that these conclusions would be any different today. The expert view in this country, in common with that in other leading aviation States, is that electronic approach and landing systems provide the best means of promoting regularity and safety in conditions of low visibility, and development remains concentrated on such means.
§ Lord BRAYE
My Lords, while thanking my noble friend for that reply, I should like to ask him a supplementary question regarding the electronic landing system. Why was it that last winter there were so many delays, despite the fact that aerodromes had the electronic landing system?
§ Lord TREFGARNE
My Lords, even the electronic system is not capable, except in the most favourable circumstances, of bringing aircraft in to land when visibility drops to the very lowest levels which we sometimes experience, but even if we had had the FIDO system last autumn the regularity of operations would not have been improved.