HL Deb 14 July 1981 vol 422 cc1113-4
The Earl of Kimberley

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make a Statement on the crash of the Dan Air 748 aircraft carrying mail on Friday, 26th June last.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade (Lord Trefgarne)

My Lords, the accident in question was the subject of a special bulletin issued by the Accident Investigations Branch on 10th July 1981 and I am placing a copy in the Library. The Chief Inspector of Accidents has ordered an inspector's investigation.

The Earl of Kimberley

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that Answer. May I ask him two questions? Whatever the cause of the accident, is it not time that the Queen's Flight was up-dated, not only for the sake of the peace of mind of Her Majesty but also for Ministers in this country and other heads of state who fly in these particular aircraft? Secondly, if it is a question of finance, is it not possible to merge the Queen's Flight with No. 32 Squadron so that the Government departments using it could have the cost spread over them, rather than that the Ministry of Defence should itself have to pay the whole cost?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, the question of re-equipping the Queen's Flight goes, if I may say so, rather wide of the Question on the Order Paper, but I can assure the noble Earl that there is no question of any difficulty with the aircraft presently operated by the Queen's Flight, and that of course the matters arising from this particular accident have been closely attended to in respect of those aircraft.

Lord Glenarthur

My Lords, if it is the case that this accident might have been due to a cargo door becoming dislodged at the rear of the aircraft and getting stuck in the tailplane, can my noble friend say how many such cases might have occurred in the past? Can he also say whether the Civil Aviation Authority have recommended any modifications, and whether indeed any of these modifications have been mandatory modifications?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, there have been some similar incidents, I regret to say, in respect of this door fitted to this particular type of aircraft. Clearly this is a matter which will engage the close attention of the investigators. A number of minor modifications have been called for to the door system on this aircraft in the past. So far as I know, none of them was made mandatory.

Lord Balfour of Inchrye

My Lords, in spite of this tragic accident will the Minister confirm that the 748 is a remarkably fine aircraft that has been exported to nearly all of the countries of the world, and has been, and is, in fact a tribute to British production of civil aircraft?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, my noble friend is of course quite correct. I think 300 or so of this particular type of aircraft, or close derivatives of it, are in service around the world and have given very remarkable service.

The Earl of Kimberley

My Lords, as I am not certain whether my noble friend heard my second supplementary, may I ask whether he did? If not, it was to ask whether he would agree that the Queen's Flight might be merged with No. 32 Squadron, thereby saving costs?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I did hear what my noble friend said, but like his first supplementary it had little to do with the Question on the Order Paper.

Back to