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Charter Companies (Aircraft)

Volume 649: debated on Monday 20 November 1961

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asked the Minister of Aviation, whether, in the interest of safety, there is an age limit imposed on the use of aircraft owned and operated by air charter companies; and if he will make a statement.

No, Sir; but the system of airworthiness, control includes annual examinations for airworthiness, annual performance checks for individual aircraft, and the setting of safe "lives" for parts of aircraft which are subject to fatigue. No recent accident to a British-operated aircraft has been attributed to failure of the aircraft itself.

Should not the question of the safe life of the whole aircraft now be considered? Is my right hon. Friend aware that there must be Dakotas which, in two or three years' time, will be 20 years old? Is there anything to stop an operator from buying a pre-war aircraft like an Imperial Airways Hannibal—if it could be found—and operating that commercially?

Very elaborate procedures are laid down for maintenance, and I should not like it to be thought that some of the older aircraft are less safe. Some of them have a very fine safety record. Probably the scientific and best method is to lay down definite "lives" for various parts and for maintenance procedures to see that those parts are replaced at regular intervals.

Would it not also be in the interests of safety if more and more people travelled by the nationalised airlines, whose safety standards are not exceeded by any airline in the world?

No, Sir. Safety standards are precisely the same for both independent and nationalised airlines.