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Prestwick Airport (Landings)

Volume 438: debated on Wednesday 4 June 1947

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asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation if he is aware that a Scottish Airlines Dakota aircraft, carrying 11 passengers, circled Prestwick airport 16 times before landing on Wednesday, 14th May, and that this was primarily due to the development of an oil-leak in the hydraulic pipeline system; if he has made an inquiry into the matter; and if he will make a statement.

Yes, Sir. This incident was the result of a mechanical defect, which unfortunately occurred despite the rigid inspections and safety rules to which aircraft are subjected. The circuits of the airfield were necessary, in order that a visual check could be made from the ground to ensure that the undercarriage was safely down before the aircraft landed. I am satisfied that everything possible was done to safeguard both passengers and aircraft; and that all the necessary action was carried out in an exemplary fashion, with the result that the aircraft made a successful landing.

While I thank my hon. Friend for that answer, may I ask if he is fully aware that this danger always exists; and could he say what crash survivability there is in the air frame of the machine to prevent disaster in the event of forced landing in cases like this?

So far as the last part of the question, is concerned, I doubt whether there is any question of crash survivability in the frame of an aircraft. What can be done is to reduce the possibility of accident as far as is possible. In so far as the actual incident is concerned, in this case it was a leak in the hydraulic system and it is one which is likely to occur, but which inspection generally shows up.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary quite satisfied that there was anything wrong with this aircraft; and might it not have been that the pilot, under the influence of certain Scottish Members, circled round 16 times to show the passengers what a wonderful airport Prestwick is?

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that before an aeroplane can fly, the engineer has to sign it out as being airworthy, and surely it is a reflection on the engineer that a Question like this should be asked?

Yes, Sir, and this aircraft, of course, had its certificate before it flew. It was a leakage which occurred between the union and the pipe.