HC Deb 04 August 1965 vol 717 cc312-4W
Commander Courtney

asked the Minister of Aviation if he is aware of the heavy burden of landing charges in addition to the increased flying rates resulting from the ending of the petrol concession on private pilots endeavouring to maintain their flying qualifications; and if he will take steps to ensure that aerodrome authorities charge nominal landing fees in respect of bona fide training flights.

Mr. Stonehouse

The petrol duty rebate was available to flying clubs and groups for the purposes of instructional and recreational flying. Members of these clubs are eligible under the Royal Aero Club landing card scheme for free landing facilities for aircraft of under 5,000 lbs. at over 70 State aerodromes. Several non-State aerodromes also honour the Royal Aero Club landing cards, and those belonging to the Aerodrome Owners Association recently instituted a scheme of their own under which participating clubs enjoy a reduction of 50 per cent. in landing charges. Private owners of aircraft were not eligible for the petrol duty rebate and thus were not affected by its ending, but they too can obtain Royal Aero Club landing cards at a small cost. In addition to these arrangements clubs are often able to negotiate special rates for training flights with the owner of the aerodrome at which they are based.

Commander Courtney

asked the Minister of Aviation if, in view of the general increase in flying rates of light aeroplane clubs and groups, necessitated by recent Government policy, he will make an announcement of his intentions for the support of light aviation before the end of the current flying season and before Parliament rises for the Summer Recess.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

It is the Government's desire to see light aviation in a healthy and vigorous state and to this end practical help and encouragement is already being given in the following main ways:

  1. (i) The placing of contracts with approved flying clubs worth about £120,000 in the current year, for training ATC and other cadets.
  2. (ii) The provision of free landing facilities for club aircraft at State-owned aerodromes.
  3. (iii) Grants running at about £20,000 a year towards specific projects for the acquisition of gliders and other equipment under the Physical Training and Education Act, 1937. In addition, the Department of Education and Science make annual grants to the British Gliding Association of £1,500 each for a National Coach and a Chief Technical Officer.
  4. (iv) The Government has indicated its willingness to assist in the development of promising new light aircraft types; support has already been offered to the extent of £600,000 for the Beagle range, and other types are under consideration.
  5. (v) Maintenance standards for club aircraft, are, consistently with safety, to be simplified.
  6. (vi) The licensing of private pilots will be simpler and cheaper when the 5-year licence comes into force next month, and approved flying clubs will be more closely associated with the issue and renewal of licences.
  7. (vii) The Government contributes to the costs of the General Aviation Safety Committee and collaborates in its work.
  8. (viii) There is close consultation on air traffic control and other matters of mutual interest through a number of bodies including the Standing Joint Committee on Private and Club Flying and Gliding which meets under the chairmanship of my Parliamentary Secretary.

It has now been decided to extend this assistance in the following ways:—

  1. (a) My Ministry will contribute to the cost of training sponsored flying instructors at approved flying schools.
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  3. (b) Grants will be made to flying clubs which employ professionally qualified Chief Flying Instructors; discussions are being initiated with the representative organisations to make arrangements for this straight away.
  4. (c) I am ready to give some modest financial assistance to a suitable body representative of the flying clubs with which my Department can co-operate in maintaining and improving light aviation flying standards.