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Supersonic Airliner

Volume 649: debated on Monday 20 November 1961

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asked the Minister of Aviation whether he has now reached a decision on the production of a supersonic airliner; and whether he will make a statement on his discussions with the aircraft industry and foreign Governments on this project.

Design studies are proceeding, but we have not yet reached the stage where a firm decision to go ahead with production could be taken. The possibilities of collaboration with other countries are being fully explored.

In view of the fairly authoritative statements which have appeared in the Press in the last week, can the right hon. Gentleman confirm that a decision has been taken that this project will be shared by the French and British industries? Is consultation going on about the relative costs to be borne by each country?

No. Sir. I do not think that I can confirm any statement that has appeared about supersonic aircraft in any section of the Press. The situation is as I have stated it. All the countries, as far as I know—and those which I know of include France, the United States and the United Kingdom—are in the design study stage, and none of them, either singly or collectively, has taken a decision to proceed with the production of an aircraft.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that last week a hyper-sonic aircraft flew at over 4,000 miles an hour? Is he further aware that if he does not get a move on quickly with a supersonic aircraft he will soon be out of date?

I should have thought that the hon. Gentleman would find that one a little uncomfortable.