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Sea-Going Aeroplanes

Volume 244: debated on Wednesday 12 November 1930

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39 and 40.

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air (1) whether, in view of the fact that at the naval demonstration on 1st of November an all-metal machine which was compelled to make a false landing on the sea sank immediately after touching the water, that an all-metal non-buoyant type of machine is the only one used at sea by this country for long-ranging reconnaissance flights up to 100 miles from the parent ship, and that such machines have never been known to remain afloat for more than three minutes, he will consider the resumption for use in such long distance flights of machines with a wooden fuselage and air bags in the tail which have a buoyancy of two or three hours in fair weather;

(2) whether a rubber raft, which requires time for detachment and inflation, such as is furnished to all-metal machines, has been subjected to practical tests as a life-saving device in non-buoyant aircraft at sea; and, if so, with what results?

A life-saving collapsible dinghy, which can be very rapidly inflated by mechanical means, has recently been subjected to practical tests with satisfactory results, and will be carried by all sea-going aeroplanes which are large enough to be so equipped. I am advised that the re-introduction of wooden construction would be a some- what retrograde step; but action is being taken to improve the buoyancy of all aircraft operating from aircraft carriers, and all-metal sea-going aircraft, at least up to the standard—two or three hours' buoyancy—mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman.

Is it not a fact that, owing to the introduction of the all-metal aeroplane, it was necessary to restrict the distance an aeroplane could fly from its carrier very considerably, and, in view of that, will the hon. Gentleman consider, at least temporarily, the reintroduction of a portion of the old type aeroplane?

I think the answer to the latter part of the question is in the negative. So far as the first part is concerned, the whole question is a matter of experiment and consideration, and everything is being done on the lines of the answer to the original question.