TOKYO, JAPAN: On Wednesday (3 Jan), Japanese officials reported that a passenger aircraft involved in a collision with a Coast Guard turboprop at a Tokyo airport had received clearance for landing.
However, according to control tower transcripts, the smaller plane had not been authorized for take-off.
After colliding with a De Havilland Dash-8 Coast Guard turboprop upon landing at Haneda airport on Tuesday (2 Jan), the Japan Airlines (JAL) Airbus A350, carrying 379 passengers, successfully evacuated everyone on board when it caught fire.
The airplane brusted into flame in collision with a Japan coast guard
aircraft. All 379 passengers on the JAL evacuated but 5 people on the coast guard plane couldn't make it. The coast guard plane was delivering relief supplies. what's going on in Japan… pic.twitter.com/oY2UW69wbz
— Yume's Japan 🇯🇵 Kanji sensei (@Yumes_Japan) January 3, 2024
Regrettably, five out of the six Coast Guard crew members, who were scheduled to respond to a significant earthquake on Japan’s western coast, lost their lives in the incident.
The captain, who managed to escape the wreckage, sustained severe injuries.
Authorities have initiated investigations into the crash, aiming to uncover why both aircraft were on the same runway.
Air traffic control investigation: Japan Airlines and Coast Guard collision
Previously, transcripts of traffic control instructions released by authorities seemed to indicate that the Japan Airlines jet received clearance for landing, while instructions for the Coast Guard aircraft involved directing it to taxi to a holding point near the runway.
A representative from Japan’s Civil Aviation Bureau informed the media that the transcripts did not indicate that the Coast Guard aircraft had received clearance for takeoff.
The captain of the turboprop plane stated that he entered the runway after obtaining permission, as mentioned by a Coast Guard official.
However, it was acknowledged that the transcripts did not confirm that he had been authorized to do so.
Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism merilis transkrip percakapan ATC dengan JAL 516 dan DHC-8 Japan Coast Guard pic.twitter.com/IT2tfO7UBE
— Komunitas Indoflyer (@indoflyer) January 4, 2024
Transport Minister Tetsuo Saito assured reporters, “The transport ministry is submitting objective material and will fully cooperate with the … investigation to ensure we work together to take all possible safety measures to prevent a recurrence.”
Currently, the Japan Safety Transport Board (JTSB) is conducting the investigation, with involvement from agencies in France (where the Airbus jet was designed) and Britain (where its Rolls-Royce engines were manufactured).
Meanwhile, in Canada, where the Coast Guard Dash-8 was originally manufactured by Bombardier, the TSB safety agency has expressed its intention to participate in the investigation.
Authorities have confirmed the retrieval of the voice recorder from the Coast Guard aircraft, according to reports.
An aviation analyst said, “strong possibility there was a human error”
Hiroyuki Kobayashi, a former pilot with Japan Airlines and an aviation analyst, suggested that human error could be a contributing factor to the fatal aircraft collision at Haneda Airport on Tuesday, (2 Jan) involving a passenger plane and a Coast Guard aircraft.
He stated, “There is a strong possibility that human error played a role.
“Aircraft accidents seldom result from a single issue, so I believe there were two or three factors that contributed to the incident.”
Tokyo police are reportedly investigating whether potential professional negligence led to the fatalities and injuries, as per various media reports including Kyodo and Nikkei.
The police have established a unit for the investigation and plan to interview those involved, although a spokesperson did not confirm whether they were examining allegations of negligence.
In a statement released on Wednesday (Jan 3), JAL mentioned that the aircraft had acknowledged and repeated the landing permission from air traffic control before approaching and touching down.
Despite all passengers and crew being evacuated within 20 minutes of the crash, the aircraft, engulfed in flames, burned for more than six hours, according to the airline
One of the six Coast Guard aircraft based at the airport had plans to deliver assistance to areas affected by a magnitude 7.6 earthquake in Japan on January 1st, which has resulted in the loss of at least 64 lives.
The incident led to the cancellation of 137 domestic and four international flights on Wednesday (Jan 3), as reported by the government.
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