§ Mr. Day
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he has received a reply from the Civil Aviation Authority to his request to it to review the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety submission querying tie technical basis of their decision to reject the mandatory provision of smoke hoods in passenger aircraft.
§ Mr. McLoughlin
The Civil Aviation Authority, which has the statutory responsibility for the safety regulation of United Kingdom civil aviation, has advised me that it has completed the review of the material put forward by the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety—PACTS. The authority has carefully considered the PACTS submission, but it concluded that it should maintain its previous decision not to make mandatory the provision of smoke hoods in British aircraft. In accordance with my previous undertaking, I have written to my hon. Friend outlining more fully the reasons behind the Civil Aviation Authority's conclusion.
§ Mr. McLoughlin
I am advised by the Civil Aviation Authority that the main strategies to protect passengers from the effects of toxic fumes associated with aviation fire are speedily to evacuate passengers from the source of the fire and to prevent the fire from spreading. The authority recognises that a smoke hood meeting an aviation specification and correctly worn may provide some protection to an individual unfortunate enough to he in an aircraft fire. However, the authority takes the view that the speed at which such fires spread means that rapid evacuation is of overriding importance and that any delay caused by the donning of smoke hoods by passengers unfamiliar with the equipment could jeopardise speedy evacuation and consequently place lives at risk.