asked the Secretary of State for Air the purpose of the Royal Air Force officers' disciplinary course at a town of which he has been informed; and whether he is aware that officer and sergeant pilots are sent there for offences involving not discipline but some error of judgment in flying, correctable more readily at a flying refresher course than on a barrack square?
The purpose of the air crew refresher course is to assist in the elimination of tendencies likely to contribute to avoidable flying accidents. The course forms part of a general scheme of accident prevention. As for the second part of the Question, only those pilots are sent on the course who, in the opinion of their commanding officers, are likely to benefit from it.
Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that there have been a number of cases in which sergeant pilots in particular have been sent there with a view to sending them on a punishment course?
No, Sir. Pilots who made an error of judgment in flying would not be sent to a course, except when the commanding officer considers that carelessness or disobedience of orders, or tendencies in those directions, have been the cause of the error or are likely to cause errors in the future. Of course, there will be cases in which pilots consider that their error has not been due to carelessness. The commanding officer must be the deciding authority.
Will the Minister investigate certain cases I have in mind if I send them to him?
Yes, Sir, certainly. If the hon. Member will send me any particular individual case, I shall be glad to look into it.