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Civil Aviation Passenger Aircraft (Dinghies)

Volume 531: debated on Wednesday 27 October 1954

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asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation why he has put forward proposals to interested bodies that passenger aircraft should be permitted to fly further over the sea before being under any obligation to carry lifebelts.

No proposals relating to lifebelts have been made, but the regulations on the carriage of dinghies are under review.

Is it not an extraordinary suggestion even to be considered, especially coming so soon after the Swissair tragedy?

With regard to dinghies, the standard laid down in this country is a good deal higher than that laid down by the international civil aviation organisation. In the circumstances, I think it is right to look at it, but I have come to no decision on the matter.

Is not the Minister aware that a lot of these tragedies affect children, and that it is not easy to get children to wear lifebelts? Is it not, therefore, absolutely essential to have dinghies on these overseas flights?

That is one of the points which will have to be considered, but as our standards are appreciably above those of the international body, one of whose main duties is to set standards of safety, we must look into the matter. I assure the hon. Gentleman that the point he has mentioned will be given due weight.

Will the right hon. Gentleman look up the report of the Italian inquiry into the Hermes air crash off Sicily in 1952, in which five young children died because dinghies were not carried? Will he also look at the recommendations of that Report, which his predecessor accepted, and which included a reference to the necessity for carrying dinghies, even for short distance flights from the coast?