10 JULY 1964, Page 8

Spectator's Notebook

IF a man made a habit of firing a blank pistol out- side your windows at un- predictable moments it would not be difficult to obtain legal powers to dis- suade him from his per- secution. A rather similar nuisance will be caused by supersonic airliners if they are allowed to hurl their `supersonic bangs' across the country, but I begin to suspect that we are going to find it much more difficult to protect ourselves against this. When the matter came up in the House of Commons the other day, the Government reply was not encouraging. It sounds well enough to talk about research into the problem of the 'boom': but no one pre- tends that these aeroplanes will do anything but create a shattering din whenever they fly at supersonic speeds. 'In my view it is something which people will learn to live with,' said the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Aviation. A pretty deplorable view it was, too. The only decent approach to the matter is to start with the assumption that supersonic booms are intolerable except over the oceans, and then to try for an international agreement recognising this. I don't suppose anything so sensible is at all likely.

Probably supersonic airliners will be directed to fly as much as possible over the less thickly populated parts of the country, as the military planes now are. This will reduce the number of sufferers. But it will also have the result of violating the few remaining bits of tranquil rural England. This will certainly harmonise with the 'firm intention' to fit the Concord into 'the pat- tern of living of the 1970s and 1980s,' if that pat- tern develops as it looks like doing.