§ Mr. Andrew Smith
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the emergency landing of a United States Air Force F111 nuclear bomber at Upper Heyford and the fireball caused by the jettisoning of fuel; and what implications this has for the safety of the local population.
§ Mr. Neubert
An F111E aircraft developed an engine problem shortly after take-off on a routine training mission from RAF Upper Heyford just after 7 pm on May. The pilot immediately decided to return to base. Shortly before landing he jettisoned excess fuel to reduce the weight of the aircraft and ensure a safe landing, the jettisoned fuel was ignited by the exhaust plume of the aircraft's engine, causing a brief flame. The pilot performed the routine operational procedures designed to cope with a problem of this sort exactly as he is trained to do and the aircraft ianded without further incident. At no time was there any danger to local residents. The incident is being investigated by the USAF authorities at the base to determine the cause of the problem.