§ Dr. Roger Thomas
asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will investigate the circumstances in which low-flying United States Air Force training planes flew dangerously near to helicopters using the landing space at the West Wales general hospital, Carmarthen, on the afternoon of Tuesday 12 January; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Wiggin
[pursuant to his reply, 22 January l982, c. 198]: The two A10 aircraft were on a properly briefed and authorised low level navigation exercise in the south Dyfed area and were flying at 300 knots and 500 feet above ground level. The aircraft were in the general area at 1446 hours when a Jetranger helicopter operated by the South-Western Electricity Board was landing at the West Wales General hospital site. All round visibility was good (up to 40kms) and the helicopter pilot has been interviewed and has stated that he assessed the risk to his aircraft and crew as nil. My professional advisers are satisfied that the aircraft involved in this alleged incident were, in fact, sufficiently well separated both vertically and horizontally for there to be no risk of collision.
However, the investigation revealed that one A10 did breach the rules by flying closer to the hospital than allowed. The appropriate action has been taken to prevent this recurring.