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Sikorsky S56 Helicopter

Volume 527: debated on Monday 17 May 1954

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asked the Minister of Supply to what extent he is assisting the progress made in the production of the Sikorsky S.56 30–40 seater helicopter, which could be made in this country, in view of the fact that there is an indication that it will meet the need of an economic proposition in the development of this form of air transport.

If the hon. Member will let me know what kind of assistance to production he has in mind, I shall be happy to consider it.

Is the right hon. Gentleman not of the opinion that this S.56 is years ahead of any other type of helicopter capable of carrying from 30 to 40 passengers, and would he not consider as soon as practicable acquiring some of these helicopters and handing them over to B.E.A.C. for development and group flying experience before it is too late?

I think that is rather an involved proposal, but I shall be glad to consider it. A few days ago the hon. Gentleman gave notice that he proposed to raise the whole matter on the Adjournment. That would seem to me to be a more suitable occasion to go into detailed questions.

Does the right hon. Gentleman not appreciate that, whereas there are six Ministers here now, on the Adjournment there would be only the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, and that I hope that other Ministers will not shelter under his umbrella?

The Question that the hon. Gentleman asked, on which he gave notice he would raise the matter on the Adjournment, was almost identical to this one.

Would my right hon. Friend bear in mind very valuable flying data in connection with helicopters has been obtained from the S.51 services operated by B.E.A.C. on such routes as Birmingham to Northolt and Liverpool to Cardiff? Why has there been a cessation in the last 12 months of those experimental flights? Could we not continue with the S.55, for instance, as a preliminary to the machine mentioned in this. Question?

Will my right hon. Friend ensure and give an undertaking that if the S.56 is to be used here it will be made in this country and not acquired from the United States?