HC Deb 06 May 1976 vol 910 cc431-2W
Mr. D. E. Thomas

asked the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many low-level training flights involving Gnat aircraft took place in 1975; and from which Royal Air Force bases they operated;

(2) what is the total number of accidents that have taken place involving Gnat Royal Air Force trainer aircraft;

(3) if he will undertake to publish the full results of an inquiry into mid-air collisions of two Gnat aircraft near Brithdir in Merioneth on 30th April;

(4) if he will instruct the RAF to suspend all low-level training flights using Gnat trainer aircraft until the results are known of an inquiry into the mid-aid collision near Brithdir in Merioneth on 30th April;

(5) if he will undertake an inquiry into the mid-air collision near Brithdir in Merioneth on 30th April involving two Gnat aircraft.

Mr. Wellbeloved

In accordance with standard practice a board of inquiry was convened immediately; it started work on 1st May. Its main purpose is to identify the cause of the accident.

The Gnat has been in service since 1962, and the exercise on which the pilots were engaged conformed to the normal pattern of Gnat training. There is no reason to suppose that there is any basic fault in the aircraft or in the training programme which could justify the suspension of all Gnat training. If the board's findings indicate to the contrary then appropriate action will be taken.

The proceedings of Service boards are privileged and are not published, but I shall consider making a statement once the board's work is finished.

There have been 49 accidents involving Gnat trainer aircraft. Of these only two during the past 10 years have involved aircraft flying on a low-level exercise. Some 2,800 low-level training flights by Gnat aircraft took place during 1975 from the Royal Air Force stations at Valley and Kemble.

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