Japan Coast Guard plane not cleared for takeoff before collision: transcripts
By Ryan General
January 4, 2024
The coast guard aircraft involved in a fatal collision with a Japan Airlines (JAL) passenger jet on Tuesday had not been cleared for takeoff at Tokyo’s Haneda airport before the tragedy, newly released air traffic control transcripts indicate.
Recap: Upon landing on the airport’s runway 34R on Jan. 2, JAL Airbus A350-900 collided with the Japan Coast Guard’s De Havilland Canada DHC-8. The collision resulted in five coast guard crew members losing their lives, while all 379 passengers and crew of the JAL flight safely evacuated down emergency slides just before their plane was engulfed in flames.
What the transcripts say: According to transcripts released by Japanese Transport Minister Tetsuo Saito on Wednesday, the JAL plane had been granted permission to land at 5:43:26 p.m. local time. On the other hand, the coast guard aircraft, which was preparing to deliver supplies to Ishikawa prefecture to aid earthquake relief efforts, had not received clearance for takeoff.
Air traffic control instead instructed the coast guard plane to “taxi to holding point” at 5:45:11 p.m. The aircraft would confirm the instruction seconds later.
What the pilots say: The coast guard plane’s captain, who remains in critical condition, previously claimed to have received runway clearance, contradicting recorded communications, the BBC reported. Meanwhile, the JAL pilots said they did not notice any aircraft on the runway before landing.
What’s next: While authorities have begun looking into possible professional negligence, initial investigation suggests that warning lights at the relevant holding point may not have been functional. Airbus, the manufacturer of the JAL plane, is sending a team of specialists to assist authorities in their investigation, reported The Guardian. Investigators from Britain, where the plane’s engines were manufactured, are also set to join the efforts.
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