HL Deb 29 March 1955 vol 192 cc234-6WA

asked Her Majesty's Government if they will give the following information in regard to the Long Range Mark 300 Britannia, the new Comet, and the DC-7C respectively: (a) the earliest date on which it is reasonable to expect that each aircraft can be brought into service with B.O.A.C.; (b) with what engines they will be equipped—in particular whether they will be piston, turbo-propeller, or jet engines; (c) whether the engines will be of British or foreign manufacture; (d) whether at the date of entry into service with B.O.A.C. any, and if so how many, of these aircraft will be in service with foreign airlines; (e) the cruising speeds, range and passenger-carrying capacity on non-stop runs across the Atlantic of each aircraft; (f) whether each of these three aircraft and their engines will be subjected to the same air, ground and tank tests before being flown in service with B.O.A.C.; and (g) the estimated sterling cost in each case of airframes and engines respectively, including a full allowance for spares.


Details of the new Comet—the Comet IV—are at present the subject of discussion between B.O.A.C. and the manufacturers and cannot therefore be given, but certain basic information is included in the following:

  1. (a) If delivery dates and performance figures are realised, it would be reasonable to expect the Britannia Mark 300 Long Range and the DC-7C to be fit for regular passenger service with B.O.A.C. by the summer of 1957.
  2. (b) The Britannia Mark 300 L.R. will initially have Bristol Proteus 755 turbo-propeller engines, the DC-7C will have Wright 998 T.C. 18 EA1. compound piston engines and the Comet IV Rolls-Royce Avon jet engines.
  3. (c) The engines of the Long Range Britannia and the Comet IV will be of British manufacture, and those of the DC-7C American.
  4. (d) It is expected that B.O.A.C. will be the first operator of the Britannia and the Comet. According to press statements, four foreign airlines operating on the North Atlantic have placed orders for a total of about 30 DC-7C's in advance of B.O.A.C.
  5. (e) Neither the long range Britannia nor the DC-7C has yet flown and their performances therefore have yet to be established in practice. It would be unwise for Her Majesty's Government to disclose its estimates of the probable performances of rival commercial aircraft. The long range Britannia should however prove superior in most material respects to the DC-7C.
  6. (f) The tests which the Air Registration Board has said it will require for new types were announced by my right honourable and learned friend Sir Lionel Heald in a statement to the court at the Comet Inquiry. In deciding the test programmes for the long range Britannia and the new Comet, the Board will of course take account of the results of tests and the background of experience gained on earlier marks 236 of each type. The DC-7C is expected to have qualified for a United States certificate of airworthiness before it is imported into the United Kindom; no decision has been taken as to whether testing would be imposed as a condition of validation of the United States certificate.
  7. (g) In each case the cost of airframes and engines and the extent of the spares allowance are commercial matters which are the subject of negotiation between the parties concerned.