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Civil Aviation

Volume 155: debated on Thursday 22 June 1922

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Passenger Aeroplanes (Pilots And Wireless)


asked the Secretary of State for Air the number of foreign-owned passenger-carrying aeroplanes trading between their own country and England which carry only a single pilot; what number are not yet fitted with wireless; and whether he can give approximate dates on which these essential improvements are to be remedied?

The answer to the first question is 71 aeroplanes, of which 10 will eventually be replaced by aeroplanes fitted with dual control capable of carrying two pilots; to the second 65; to the third, that it is expected that all these aeroplanes will be fitted with wireless apparatus within the next three months.

Trans-European Air Routes


asked the Secretary of State for Air whether any steps are being taken to establish British air routes on any European routes other than the little cross-Channel routes London-Paris, London-Brussels, etc.; whether definite steps are being taken to establish British air routes on the important trans-European routes where French, German, and Italian aircraft are already operating; and, if not, why not?

The answer to the first question is that it is proposed to establish a new subsidised air route with flying boats from Southampton to Cherbourg and probably later to the Channel Islands; to the second that, except as stated above, no additions to the existing subsidised aeroplane services are at present contemplated, though these routes may be extended under the present subsidy scheme within the limits of the money available; to the last, that the Ministry has up to the present received no applications from any British firm to establish a British air line on the trans-European routes.

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware, now that Germany is allowed to build aircraft that German aircraft will be ahead of the English?

I think it must be apparent to my hon. Friend that European countries have a considerable advantage over us in this connection.

London-Paris Route (Equipment)


asked the Secretary of State for Air whether any complaints have been made to the effect that the facilities as regards terminal aerodromes, landing grounds en route, wireless communication, fog reporting, etc., on the London-Paris route are inadequate; whether any representations have been made to the French Government to improve the wireless facilities on the French side of the London-Paris route or what is the delay in establishing efficient communication; and whether the Air Ministry will consider setting up stations for reporting the width and altitude of fog banks on the route and otherwise dealing with the complaints made against this route?

The answer to the first question is that some vague complaints, especially in regard to the French portion of the route, have been received, but, with two exceptions, none of them has been sufficiently concrete or definite to enable action to be taken on them. The two exceptions related to the defective condition of the surface of Croydon aerodrome; which steps have been taken to remedy, and to delays in wireless communication between Croydon and Paris, mainly traceable to atmospheric disturbances and in a less degree to mistakes by personnel. As regards wireless communication on this route generally, I would refer my hon. Friend to my reply to him of the 4th May last. That reply is also pertinent to the second question, the answer to which is in the affirmative. The delays in establishing efficient wireless communication on the French side of the Channel are due to the time necessary to reconstruct their W/T stations, but we are informed that this work is being pressed forward. As regards the last part of the question, experiments are in hand for finding a practical method of determining the vertical extent of fog, and the suggested establishment of new stations for this purpose, additional to the existing rive, namely, three on the 58-mile route from Croydon to the coast, reporting weather conditions every hour during daylight and two reporting the conditions over the Channel, is not considered necessary.

Has the right hon. and gallant Gentleman actually interviewed some of the pilots about these complaints in the first part of the question; and, if not, will he do so?

I will certainly put myself in touch with the companies, and ask them to inform me of what are the view of their pilots.

Air Station (Thames)


asked the Secretary of State for Air whether any further progress has been made as to providing an air station on the Thames in the vicinity of Westminster and Vauxhall bridges; whether it has been definitely decided to establish such a station; when it is proposed to use it for a Continental air service; and can he make any general statement on the subject?

Negotiations have been steadily pursued with a view to carrying out the series of experimental flights to and from the Thames at Westminster referred to in the reply I gave my hon. Friend on the 22nd February last. These have, however, not borne fruit, and I regret, therefore, that I have nothing to add to my previous statements.

Air Service (India And Australia)


asked the Prime Minister, in view of the importance of the proposed airship service to India and Australia, whether he can hasten the consideration and decision of the Imperial Defence Committee?

The question of the proposed airship service to India and Australia will be considered at an early meeting of the Committee of Imperial Defence.