Examination of Witnesses (Questions 580-582)|
1 FEBRUARY 2006
Q580 Mr Wilshire: On safety, and
first to both the local authority representatives, given that
most accidents seem to happen near airports, how much interest
do you take in the safety role of the CAA?
Cllr Cadbury: I had always been
led to believe that Heathrow was as safe an international airport
as any until I read the report in The Times a couple of
weeks ago of the Accident and Investigation Bureau on the US 747
flight that was stricken in April 2004. It was flying over the
South-East of England on one failed jet engine and three unpowered
engines. In its difficulties, it was trying to work out where
to land. Because it had seen Heathrow by visualsluckily
it was a clear daythe pilot asked Air Traffic Control whether
it would be okay to land at Heathrow. Air Traffic Control, based
on their guidelines, basically thought there was no problem. The
aircraft ended up taking quite a wiggly direction in order to
lose height from central London over West London to land at Heathrow.
Thank goodness, it landed safely. What the AIB pointed out was
that the guidelines for ATC said very little about the need to
avoid built-up areas when an aircraft is in trouble. I was really
shocked to find that ATC does not have powers to direct a pilot
to an airfield where the risk from the ground is much lower. The
only danger indicator that ATC is required to look at is if a
flight is carrying dangerous goods. In my view, a 747 that is
loaded with sufficient fuel to cross the Atlantic in itself is
carrying dangerous goods. We definitely believe now that the CAA
should seriously, as the AIB has recommended, look at that.
Q581 Mr Wilshire: Can I pursue this,
Chairman? That is a long answer to a question I did not ask. The
question I asked is: does your council engage with the CAA directly
to discuss safety matters so that you are satisfied that it is
doing its safety job properly, not about your reading things in
Cllr Cadbury: We will be doing
Q582 Mr Scott: On the point you were
mentioning about the jumbo jet which fortunately did land safely
at Heathrow, do you agree it is absolutely ludicrous to fly a
plane over London, including over my own constituency, when it
could have been safely landed at a designated airport such as
Cllr Cadbury: I find it ludicrous
it was directed over central London and that the ATC did not have
the power to direct it elsewhere.
Chairman: You have been very helpful.
Thank you very much indeed.