HC Deb 21 April 1959 vol 604 cc37-8W
Mrs. McLaughlin

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation (1) whether his attention has been drawn to the number of civil aircraft which have been forced off the runway at Nutts Corner Airport due to cross winds when taking off or landing; and if he will make a statement on the steps being taken to remedy this state of affairs;

(2) when it is anticipated that cross runways will be available for civil aircraft at Belfast Airport.

Mr. Currie

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation (1) whether he is aware that a British European Airways Viscount aircraft, when landing at Nutts Corner, on 13th April, 1959, was blown off the runway by cross-winds and damaged and that the airport was rendered unserviceable and great delay thereby occasioned to the travelling public; and to what extent the accident was due to the airport having no suitable cross-runways;

(2) whether a decision has yet been taken as to the provision of cross-runways for civil aircraft using Belfast Airport; and when it is anticipated that such decision will be reached.

Mr. Watkinson

During the last five years two aircraft have run off the main runway at Nutts Corner Airport when landing or taking off in cross winds. A subsidiary runway is available for aircraft up to Dakota size, but is physically unsuitable for extension for use by larger aircraft. Aircraft needing a longer runway than this can divert to the R.A.F. station at Aldergrove, a few miles away, on the very few occasions when wind or other conditions make the main runway unuseable at Nutts Corner. It would be for the airline operator and the captain of the aircraft to decide whether to divert on a particular occasion.

The accident to a Viscount aircraft on 13th April is under investigation, and pending the result of this it would not be advisable to suggest any precise cause for the accident. The accident occurred in the afternoon and the main runway was available for use again at 6 a.m. the next morning. During this period one departing service left from Aldergrove instead of Nutts Corner, one inbound service from London was cancelled because of low cloud, and a later one was delayed 35 minutes for the same reason, before operating to Aldergrove.

As my hon. Friend stated on 18th March, I am studying with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Air the possibility of joint use of Aldergrove, which has two runways suitable for Viscounts. as the main civil airport.