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Low-Flying Aircraft

Volume 124: debated on Friday 11 December 1987

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Royal Air Force police, expressed as full-time equivalent staff, are currently assigned to investigation of complaints about low-flying aircraft; and what changes have taken place in these staffing levels since 1977.

Fourteen RAF police plus one RAF provost branch officer are currently assigned to the investigation of complaints about low-flying aircraft. Detailed information is not available for the period prior to 1982, since when there has effectively been no change in these staffing levels.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the reply to the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy on 9 November, Official Report, columns 36–37, whether a low-level flight by several aircraft in formation is counted as one sortie in the figures given for overall numbers of low-level flights; and if he will make a statement.

No. Each aircraft in a formation would book into the United Kingdom low-flying system separately.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the reply to the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy on 9 November, Official Report, column 38, if, in the light of recent accidents in the United States involving low-level flying by United States Air Force B-52s and KC-135s, he will institute a policy of maintaining records of low-level flights over Britain by these types of aircraft; and if he will make a statement.

No. We see no need to maintain the sorts of records the hon. Member mentions for these aircraft. KC 135 aircraft do not fly at low level in the United Kingdom. There are no B-52 aircraft based in the United Kingdom, and, although they visit fairly regularly, any low flying would be infrequent.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many confirmed breaches of low-flying regulations in each year since 1974 were caused by aircraft diverging from planned route, height or speed due to weather conditions;(2) how many confirmed breaches of low-flying regulations in each year since 1974 were caused by technical failure or malfunction other than to navigation systems;(3) how many confirmed breaches of low-flying regulations in each year since 1974 were caused by aircraft diverging from planned route, height or speed for tactical or training reasons;(4) how many complaints about low-flying in each year since 1974 have upon investigation, been found to have involved breaches of low-flying regulations;(5) how many confirmed breaches of low-flying regulations in each year since 1974 were caused by navigation system failure or malfunction.

The information requested cannot be provided without disproportionate effort.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many low-level sorties were flown over the United Kingdom in the period 1 January to 31 October.

Between 1 January and 31 October 1987 125,335 such sorties were flown over the United Kingdom.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many complaints were received about low flying over the United Kingdom in the period 1 January to 31 October.

Between 1 January and 31 October 1987 the Ministry of Defence received 4,794 complaints about military low flying.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the minimum height specified in the United Kingdom military low-flying handbook for overflight of the residential area of Balivanich, Benbecula.

There is none because the residential area of Balivanich lies within the controlled airspace of Benbecula airport.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many low-level flights were carried out over the Western Isles in each year since 1979.

The Western Isles are part of a low-flying administrative area which also includes all of Scotland north of a line between the Forth and Clyde. Information on low-level flights for the Western Isles above is therefore not available.