HC Deb 14 March 1962 vol 655 cc161-2W
Mr. Cronin

asked the Minister of Aviation what conclusions were reached as a result of the study which he has had made into the relative safety of aviation kerosene and J.P.4 wide-cut gasoline for air transport services; and what action he intends to take on them.

Mr. Thorneycroft

The Report of the Working Party that was set up to make these studies is being published today and copies are available in the Vote Office.

The Working Party concluded that statistical evidence based on accident analysis does not show conclusively that either fuel was significantly safer than the other, partly because the number of relevant accidents is small and partly because, among this number, circumstances varied so much that accurate comparisons were seldom practicable. However, when it examined the physical properties of the two fuels, the Working Party concluded that aviation kerosene is, on balance, safer than J.P.4, mainly because the likelihood of ignition and the rate of flame spread are less. The use of kerosene should, therefore, give occupants of a crashed aircraft, who have survived an impact, a better chance of escaping before any subsequent fire made escape or rescue impossible. A high proportion of accidents occur in the landing and take-off phases when the degree of fire risk may largely determine the chance of survival.

It is, of course, necessary to preserve a sense of proportion in this matter. In the past about 90 per cent. of air transport fatalities have been caused by impact injuries so that any margin for improvement would only have been within the remaining 10 per cent. or so. The risk inherent in using J.P.4 is comparable with that of using petrol, which has always been used in piston engined aircraft, and will continue to be so.

Nevertheless, I accept the conclusion of the Report that on balance kerosene should offer a better chance of survival than J.P.4. I am glad to be able to say that all British operators of turbine-engined aircraft use kerosene except on a few occasions where they are operating through aerodromes overseas where only J.P.4 is available. I am proposing that the conclusions of the Report should be brought to the notice of the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

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