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Hercules

Volume 226: debated on Wednesday 16 June 1993

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if the route flown at low level by Hercules XV193 on 27 May was a standard route established for use by RAF Hercules.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) by what means are potential fixed low-flying routes for training of RAF Hercules aircrew surveyed prior to adoption;

Birdstrikes to RAF Hercules 1980 to 1992
Category1980198119821983198419851986198719881989199019911992
1 and 232473753516050676133363746
30000010000010
40000000000000
50000000000000
Total32473753516150676133363846

Note: Breakdown of damage in categories 1 and 2 is not available.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was the minimum authorised altitude for the low-level training sortie undertaken by Hercules XV193 on 27 May.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the minimum flying experience required from an RAF Hercules captain to fly the aircraft at (a) 500 ft minimum separation distance, (b) 250 ft minimum separation distance and (c) 100 ft minimum separation distance.

After at least six months service on operational Hercules squadrons, crews are trained, in preparation for specific operational commitments, to fly aircraft at 500 ft minimum separation distance (MSD); the training requires four sorties, totalling 12 flying hours. Subsequently, after six months service on tactical support squadrons, crews are selected for training to fly at 250 ft MSD; the training comprises 20 sorties, totalling 41 flying hours. Approximately six months after qualifying to fly at 250 ft MSD crews undergo a further course of five sorties lasting 12 hours in total. Of these crews, a very small number of specifically selected crews are permitted to fly below 250 ft MSD.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the areas in which RAF Hercules are authorised to fly at less than 250 ft.

Fixed-wing flying below 250 ft in the United Kingdom low flying system is restricted to three sparsely populated areas in northern Scotland, central Wales and the Borders which are designated as tactical training areas.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what further precautionary measures have been adopted in the operation of the RAF Hercules fleet since 27 May.

(2) how many fixed low-flying routes in the United Kingdom are currently in use by the RAF Hercules fleet; and what is the established periodicity for reviewing and changing any such fixed low-flying routes.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many bird strikes have occurred to RAF Hercules aircraft in each year since 1980; and how many were in each of the damage categories 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.

There is no reason to doubt the validity and safety of current operating procedures and thus no further precautionary measures have been adopted.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the maximum bank angle permitted for turns by RAF Hercules flying at (a) 500 ft minimum separation distance, (b) 250 ft minimum separation distance and (c) 100 ft minimum separation distance.

The maximum permitted bank angle for RAF Hercules flying is 60 deg subject to the aircraft maintaining its authorised minimum separation distance.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many RAF Hercules sorties at less than 250 ft were authorised in each year since 1980.

The numbers of movements authorised into the tactical training areas for flying below 250 ft by Hercules aircraft are as follows:

Number
19801
19812
198210
198317
198428
19850
198615
198713
19887
19899
199028
199116
19929
119934
1 To 30 April.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the route flown at low level by Hercules XV193 on 27 May was also flown by the other aircraft in the formation.

On 27 May Hercules XV193 flew the first part of the low-level element of its route in formation with other aircraft. As planned, the aircraft then broke formation to fly different routes for the final stage of the sortie.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the design bird strike impact strength of the windscreen of the RAF Hercules; and what measures have been introduced to increase the protection of Hercules aircrew against bird strikes since the aircraft's entry in service.

Information on the design bird strike impact strength is not available within my Department. In 26 years of service in the RAF no Hercules crew member or passenger has been injured a a result of bird strikes. As a result no measures to increase the crew's protection have been introduced since the aircraft entered service.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) sorties and (b) flying hours are devoted to low-level flying training in the training syllabus of No. 242 Operational Conversion Unit and in the continuation training programmes of operational Hercules squadrons.

No. 242 Operational Conversion Unit is now 57 (Reserve) Squadron. After six months' service on tactical support squadrons, crews are selected for a five-week low-level flying course comprising 20 sorties and totalling 41 flying hours. Approximately six months after initial qualification crews undergo a further five-day low-flying course comprising five sorties and 12 flying hours.