TOKYO, Jan 3 (todaynewsrooms) – Japanese authorities said on Wednesday a passenger jet that collided with a Coast Guard turboprop at a Tokyo airport had been given permission to land, but the smaller plane had not been cleared for take-off, based on control tower transcripts. According to the control tower transcripts, the collision occurred because the smaller turboprop had not received clearance for take-off, leading to the unfortunate incident at the Tokyo airport. This incident has raised concerns about the effectiveness of communication and coordination between air traffic controllers and pilots.
Despite the crash between the Japan Airlines (JAL)
Airbus A350 and the De Havilland Dash-8 Coast Guard turboprop, all 379 people on board managed to successfully evacuate after the aircraft burst into flames upon landing at Haneda airport.
Five out of the six members of the Coast Guard crew perished as they were preparing to take off on a mission to respond to a significant earthquake on the west coast of Japan. The captain, who managed to survive the crash, sustained severe injuries.
The authorities have recently initiated their investigations, and at this point, there are still uncertainties surrounding the crash and how the two aircrafts found themselves on the same runway. Nonetheless, experts strongly emphasize that for an airplane accident to occur, it typically requires the failure of various safety measures.
However, the released transcripts of traffic control instructions suggest that while the Coast Guard aircraft had been directed to taxi to a holding point near the runway, the Japan Airlines jet had indeed been granted permission to land.
The civil aviation bureau of Japan has stated that there is no evidence in the transcripts suggesting that the Coast Guard aircraft had obtained clearance to depart, as reported by officials.
According to a Coast Guard official, the captain of the turboprop plane claimed to have obtained permission before entering the runway. However, the transcripts do not indicate that he had actually been granted clearance.
Transport Minister Tetsuo Saito informed reporters that the transport ministry is presenting unbiased evidence and will actively assist the investigation. Their aim is to collaborate closely in order to implement all necessary safety precautions and prevent any similar incidents from happening in the future.
The Japan Transport Safety Board (JTSB) is conducting a thorough investigation into the accident, in collaboration with relevant agencies in France, the birthplace of the Airbus jet, and Britain, where its two Rolls-Royce engines were produced. In Canada, the TSB safety agency has also pledged to participate, given that the Coast Guard Dash-8 was originally manufactured by Bombardier.QQQ
Authorities have reported that the JTSB has successfully retrieved the voice recorder from the coast guard aircraft.
Investigation by the police is underway
The Tokyo police are currently conducting an investigation to determine if professional negligence may have resulted in the fatalities and injuries, as reported by various media outlets such as Kyodo and the Nikkei business newspaper.
A spokesperson has declared the establishment of an investigative unit at the airport. They have unveiled their intentions to carry out interviews with individuals related to the case. Nonetheless, they have abstained from making any comments regarding whether they are specifically focusing on allegations of negligence.
Previous investigations into parallel air crashes have raised concerns about potential safety conflicts and the need for police-led investigations to determine responsibility.
Former JAL pilot and aviation analyst Hiroyuki Kobayashi suggests human error likely played a significant role in the incident.
“Aircraft accidents very rarely occur due to a single problem, so I believe that this time as well there may have been two or three issues that contributed to the accident.”
A bulletin posted by U.S. regulators indicated that a strip of stop lights embedded in the tarmac, meant as an additional safety measure to prevent wrong turns, was out of service, as mentioned in the notice to pilots in effect before the accident.
U.S. aviation safety consultant John Cox stated that this is something the investigators will examine.
JAL stated on Wednesday that the aircraft successfully acknowledged and confirmed the landing authorization from air traffic control prior to its approach and touchdown.
The airline reported that all passengers and crew were safely evacuated within 20 minutes of the crash, although the aircraft continued to burn in flames for over six hours.
The Coast Guard aircraft, one of six stationed at the airport, was scheduled to provide assistance to areas affected by Monday’s devastating 7.6 magnitude earthquake, resulting in a tragic death toll of 64. The survivors are enduring bitterly cold temperatures and the looming threat of torrential rain.
According to the government, a total of 141 flights had to be cancelled on Wednesday due to the accident.
Transport Minister Saito stated that emergency flights and high-speed rail services were requested in order to mitigate the congestion.
Former U.S. accident investigator Michael Daniel stated that investigators will aim to offer recommendations.
The crucial aspect is the situational awareness: what instructions were given to the pilot while the aircraft was holding short of the runway? Additionally, we need to understand air traffic control’s perspective. Did the controller grant clearance for takeoff? Much of this crucial information will come to light during the review of the cockpit voice recorder and the air traffic control recordings.