asked the Minister of Aviation what steps he is taking to ensure the use of flame-resistant hydraulic fluids in aircraft.
No flame-resistant fluid so far produced is wholly satisfactory in existing hydraulic systems in aircraft. Research is in hand to develop new flame-resistant fluids and to develop methods of using them without increasing the risk of hydraulic failures.
In view of the importance of using flame-resistant fluids owing to the heavier and faster machines that we are now operating, and the real danger of fire arising from friction at the point where the nose wheel collapses and when the brakes are applied, could the hon. Gentleman assure us that this research is going ahead with the greatest possible speed and efficiency?
I should not like to have the danger exaggerated. In the past ten years there have been only two accidents to U.K.-registered civil transport aircraft in which hydraulic fluids may have caused or contributed to a fire, and there were no casualties in either case. However, research is going forward. A new fluid is being tested now, and my Ministry has placed contracts to the value of £150,000 to promote this research.