19 NOVEMBER 1954, Page 4

Time, the most important factor in all airline work, is

the one around which the controversy about BOAC and American aircraft revolves. Sir Miles Thomas is rightly anxious about the delay that will occur in the delivery of Bristol Britannia aircraft if they are to be put through an adequate test flying programme. The Corporation's unhappy experience with the Comet will strengthen its determination to see that the Britannia does a great many hours pressurised test flying before it is received into service. So far no individual Britannia has flown pressurised for more than 120 hours. The first contract livery date for the. Britannia was May of this year. The Corporation has a right to ask itself how long the total delay will now be, but it will also have to remember that if the new scale of pressure testing is to be applied to the American Douglas DC-7, which it has been considering, heavy delivery delays would have to be expected there too. While Sir Miles Thomas is justified in being anxious about these delays, the manufacturing company has some cogent points to put in its own defence. Both of the State Corpora- tions interfere too much with the progress of new designs. Such interference costs time even when it entails only minor changes. It is also a fact that the Britannia is built with a much higher fatigue factor of safety than that imposed' by the Air Registration Board before the Comet accident. Moreover, fatigue is taken into account by Dr. Russell in the whole of the Britannia design. To the outside observer, then, there does not seem to be any valid reason why the Corporation should now turn to America: It has, without doubt, great faith in the Douglas Company of America, one of the world's finest air- frame manufacturers. ft has equal faith in Rolls-Royce who would supply the engines, but this is an inadequate explanation for a change of mind five and a half years after placing the Britannia contract. The best present course would be for the Corporation publicly to disown any further intention of buying American aircraft, and for it and the Bristol Company to do all in their power to accelerate the testing- and delivery of the Britannia.