asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation in view of the progress being made in the production of a 30–40 seater helicopter, the Sikorsky S56, which can be built in this country, what action he is taking to ensure that we do not lag behind other countries in utilising this type of aircraft.
I understand that the Sikorsky S56 is not in production yet in the United States, and that four military prototypes, but no civil ones, have been built there. When more is known, I shall be able to consider with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply whether it would be in the interests of British operators for S56s. to be built under licence in this country.
It would help everybody if the hon. Gentleman's enthusiasm were equalled by his knowledge of the facts. I welcome the enthusiasm, but he must not assume that there is not quite close contact between our manufacturers and manufacturers in the United States upon this and kindred matters.
The B.E.A. is, of course, very interested in the development of helicopters in general in the United Kingdom, but it understands perfectly the particular stage of development of the S56. I would not in the least regard it harmful to British helicopter development if, when we know all the facts, we gave a licence to produce a foreign helicopter in this country; but before we do that we must know all the facts.