Skip to main content

Aircraft (Near Misses)

Volume 118: debated on Monday 29 June 1987

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.


asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether he will meet the chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority to discuss recent near collisions by aircraft using Heathrow and if he will make a statement.

I hope soon to meet the chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority. The CAA has responsibility for the safe operation of aircraft in the United Kingdom, including the provision of air navigation services. Recent statistics published by the CAA show that, although traffic is increasing, the likelihood of a public transport aircraft being involved in a risk-bearing airmiss continues to decline.

Is the Secretary of State aware that recent press reports, including statements attributed to air traffic controllers, have aroused widespread concern about the possibility of a disaster as Heathrow? I recognise the importance of the CAA, but does the Minister accept that in the last analysis the Government are responsible? Is he satisfied that sufficient resources are being made available for this purpose, in terms of both staff and the most modern and high technology equipment?

I hope that there is not widespread concern. Hon. Members may have heard Mr. Tugendhat, the chairman of the CAA, state clearly on the radio today that the likelihood of a risk-bearing airmiss is going down, not up. That is encouraging when one considers the growth in traffic. The CAA is responsible for safety and I am satisfied that it has sufficient resources for this purpose. If it does not, I am sure that it will tell me so.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the airlines operate at the forefront of aviation technology and lead the world in safety in the equipment that they use? Is he satisfied that the BAA is operating under the umbrella of the CAA and the national air traffic services with the best equipment that is available today? If not, why not?

I agree with a great deal of what my hon. Friend has said. A massive amount of public money has been spent on equipment, and a large sum will be spent in future. If the CAA comes to me with proposals on safety grounds, I shall look at them with great sympathy. So far I do not think that there is any need for the CAA to do so.