Skip to main content

British Airways Helicopter Service Application

Volume 414: debated on Monday 3 November 1980

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

2.46 p.m.

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government why the British Airports Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority have not given permission for British Airways to operate a helicopter service between Milton Keynes and Heathrow.

My Lords, I understand that British Airways Helicopters Limited have asked the Civil Aviation Authority not to proceed with the application for the time being, and that the operation of the proposed helicopter service is the subject of discussions between the applicant, the National Air Traffic Services and the British Airports Authority.

My Lords, while thanking my noble friend for what seemed to me to be an unsatisfactory Answer, may I ask whether he can give any reason why helicopter movements should be confused with fixed-wing aircraft movements into Heathrow? Furthermore, is he aware that the policy that British Airways now want to adopt in running this service would be beneficial to British industry, because I believe that British Airways would like to operate this service next year starting with wholly British-built Westland C.30s?

My Lords, I am interested to hear that, but the difficulty which is apprehended relates to the route of the helicopter between Milton Keynes and a suitable site on the airport. The problem so far seems to be that this route conflicts with the approach path to the main runways.

My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that helicopters are very noisy and we do not want more of them if we can possibly help it?

My Lords, can my noble friend tell us whether the British Airports Authority have given permission to anyone to operate into Heathrow small, fixed-wing aircraft in the small hours of the morning? Can lie say what kind of inquiry into that recent incident is being initiated?

My Lords, I can tell my noble friend that that is a matter that we take very seriously. An inquiry is being held by the BAA and others, but I am not yet in a position to make any announcement.

My Lords, may I ask one further supplementary question? Is my noble friend aware that there is a farm north of Heathrow called Sipson Farm, which could be a British heliport, and I believe is owned by the British Airports Authority? Is any progress being made with them in allowing it to be used as a heliport?

The construction of a new heliport, for example, on some site to the north of Heathrow, would of course have to be subject to the usual planning procedures.

My Lords, in view of the emphasis on semantics and the small "c", will the Minister tell us whether it was purely a coincidence that half of the ownership of the small fixed-wing aircraft is vested in a gentleman called Tory?