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Tuesday, 6 December 1960

Mr FAIRBAIRN (Farrer) (2:59 AM) .The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) digressed a long way from the bill. We had from him a lengthy diatribe, an economic lesson on imports, exports and undistributed income. In fact, although I listened to him for 25 minutes, I do not think I heard the word " aeroplane" mentioned once. After all, this is a very simple and straightforward measure. It is a bill to authorize the borrowing of 30,000,000 dollars for Qantas Empire Airways Limited so that it may purchase additional aircraft and modify or re-engine the seven Boeing aircraft that it already has.

I cannot see that in debating a measure such as this, there is any call to traverse the whole field of Australia's export income, its overseas balances, and whether we are like Canada in certain respects. The only thing that we have to look at is whether or not the proposed loan will assist Australia. After all, we already have seven Boeing aircraft operating, and we must decide whether we shall be better off by borrowing money to re-engine them, or by leaving them as they are. The plain fact of the matter is that the loan that Qantas is seeking can be completely serviced; that is to say, the 5£ per cent, can be paid, and the savings that are made, even after it has been paid, will be of the order of £300,000 a year. In other words, it is just common sense to borrow this money to instal more powerful engines which will make the aircraft capable of better performance because, in addition, we shall save money.

Although the time is very late I thought that I would give honorable members who are interested in this subject some background to what increased performance we can expect from these aircraft. First of all, of course, this new engine will increase thrust on take-off from about 13,500 lbs. to 17,000 lbs. The performance will be considerably improved. As honorable members know, I have always queried the purchase of the 707-138. We have the only airlines in the world which bought it, and I have felt that the performance on take-off was not adequate. It had a very long takeoff run of about 10,800 feet. This engine, with its increased thrust on take-off. will reduce that length by about 1,800 feet and make a tremendous difference in the performance.

In addition, other modifications will be made. One of them is that between the fuselage and the inboard motor slots will be fitted which will reduce the landing speed by about ten knots. The aircraft will then be able to land and take off in a shorter distance. There will also not be the noise level that is associated with the present aircraft, because the modified aircraft will have a faster rate of climb and will be able to get away from houses in the vicinity more quickly than the present model does. As an honorable member says, by way of interjection, it will be a better aircraft from every point of view. Since the honorable member would like to have some technical information, I can tell him that the new engine, while enabling the aircraft to cruise at a speed which will be an increase of about 60 knots, will reduce fuel consumption very considerably and therefore extend (he aircraft's range by about 500 miles.

Mr Murray - Will fares come down, too?

Mr FAIRBAIRN - I cannot see that happening in the foreseeable future unless the honorable member travels economy class. The payload will increase by about 28,000 lbs. of gross take-off weight. In order to show the honorable member for Melbourne Ports the tremendous improvement that will take place in the performance of the aircraft I point out - speaking from memory - that when they are flying from London to New York under conditions of maximum head wind their payload will be increased from 8,000 lbs. to 25,000 lbs. That is a very considerable increase. Undoubtedly, these aircraft will be suitable for our services. They will compete with anything else in the world, and they will remain in the front line, I would say, for some five or six years. To the honorable member for Melbourne Ports I say that this loan which he is worried about can be serviced in Australia. In addition, Qantas will show a saving of about £300,000 per annum, which is a very good reason for borrowing this money. It will not, in effect, increase our debt, which will be paid back out of the sinking fund.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.

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