HC Deb 18 July 1979 vol 970 cc715-7W
Sir Timothy Kitson

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether, in view of his Department's assurances, additional information will be given concerning the recent crashes of Provost aircraft, how many inquiries are now completed and how many inquiries are still under consideration; and if he is now in a position to make a statement about the general condition and safety of Provost aircraft.

unemployed in April 1979 and (c) the percentage increase or decrease in the total number unemployed from February 1974 to April 1979.

Mr. Jim Lester

Using national definitions, the seasonally adjusted numbers of persons unemployed at these dates and the percentage increase—there were no decreases—between the two dates are as follows:

Mr. Pattie

As the House was informed on 10 July, there have been six jet Provost crashes in the period April 1977 to July 1979. Two of these are still under investigation; of the four which have now been investigated, one was attributable to an engine failure and three to non-technical causes. The House was also told that there was no evidence of any inherent defect in the aircraft or of any deterioration in its safety record.

It may be helpful to set these accidents in the wider context of the RAF's flight safety record. In 1978 the accident rate for RAF aircraft was 0.51 per 10,000 flying hours. This is a threefold improvement over the rate of 20 years ago and a sevenfold improvement over the rate 30 years ago. This improvement has been achieved despite the fact that military aircraft during this period have been growing faster and more complicated; and that an increasing proportion of RAF flying is by tactical jet aircraft

rather than strategic transports. It is not the policy to give details of the accident rates of individual aircraft types, but in this case I ca nsay that the jet Provost's accident rate over the 24 years' service differs hardly at all from the rate over the period covered by the last six jet Provost crashes or indeed the overall RAF accident rate in 1978.

Recent jet Provost crashes have naturally caused concern to the public in the areas involved. Every accident is indeed a cause of concern to the RAF, both because it is the aircrew who are inevitably most at risk, and because the safety of aircrew and the public is the highest peacetime priority. Everything possible is done to increase safety while maintaining essential training. No student pilot is allowed to handle the controls or to go solo until he is judged by his instructor to be qualified to do so safety. And equally no aircraft would be flown which there was any reason to suppose was unsafe.

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