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Volume 113: debated on Wednesday 25 March 1987

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he expects to announce his decision on launch-aid for Superfan.

Rolls-Royce has not yet submitted a full application for launch-aid. Any application will be considered in the usual way.

Does my hon. Friend agree that perhaps the best way in which he could advance any future application for launch aid for Superfan would be an early and favourable decision on British participation in the A340 Airbus, particularly in the time scale within which he indicated to me earlier this year it would be taken, that is by the end of March?

I do not expect Rolls-Royce to put in its launch-aid application quite as soon as my hon. Friend has said. Perhaps it will do so in the next two to three months. My hon. Friend and the House will be pleased to know that Rolls-Royce today announced that it has signed a business agreement with Boeing to install the 211 engine—the 524D4D in the 767 family of Boeing aeroplanes. That is very good news.

Could the Minister be a little more precise about the business of the launch-aid for the Superfan, because it is very much bound up with the success of the A340? It would help the House and those of us who are interested in the A340 Rolls-Royce engine to know exactly when all this will be resolved.

As I said in my original answer, we have not yet received a launch-aid application from Rolls-Royce for the Superfan. The situation about the Superfan in relation to the A340 is that the arrival of the Superfan engine will certainly improve the selling and marketing prospects of the A340. It is not essential but it makes the aeroplane still better. I understand that the International Aeroengines consortium, of which Rolls-Royce is a member, will take a decision fairly soon about whether to proceed with the Superfan. All these decisions have to be taken in sequence.