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Investigation Underway After One of Japan’s Most Fatal Runway Crashes Occurs At The Haneda Airport

A day after Japan witnessed one of its most horrific aircraft accidents, Japanese investigators and authorities were (on Wednesday) reported to have started their investigation and put their focus on communication between air traffic control and two aircraft at one of Tokyo’s busiest airports, the Haneda airport.

The Unfortunate Collision 

The accident, which occurred on Tuesday evening when a Japanese passenger plane, which was performing a landing on one of Haneda airports’ four runways, collided with a Japanese Coast Guard aircraft that was using the very same runway for take-off. The Japanese Airlines Flight 516 plane (the passenger plane) landed on the runway while simultaneously a Bombardier Dash 8 (Coast Guard plane) also ascended the runway in order to take off. Upon the collision of the two planes, witnesses claim to have seen an orange fireball erupt from both aircrafts. The ablaze passenger plane continued its designated travel down the runway, leaving behind it thick, dark, clouds of smoke.

All 379 passengers and cabin crew were able to make it out of the burning plane within a short, life-threatening span of 20 minutes, using the emergency slid down chutes. For the passengers of the Coast Guard plane, however, the situation turned out for the worst. The smaller plane instantly imploded in flames, claiming the lives of five crew members. The pilot of the Coast Guard plane was fortunate to have survived the impossible with injuries.

A Probe into the Accident

During the investigation conducted by the Japanese authorities, the Transport Ministry released a transcript of air traffic control communication of approximately 4 minutes and 27 seconds before the collision happened. The transcript revealed that no definitive take off approval was given for the Bombardier Dash 8 plane. The transcript also revealed that definitive permission was transmitted to Airbus A350 to proceed with the landing on Runway C by the Tokyo Air Control. Upon further investigation, it was reported that this permission was given seeing that a plane was departing, and the runway was clear for landing. Additional statements have also stated that the Coast Guard plane was instructed to proceed on to the stop line ahead of Runway C.

According to the investigation reports, the communication between the coast guard plane and Tokyo Air Control had ended there, and approximately two minutes later there is a pause, which is estimated to be the time when the two planes collided. This accident has led the Japanese authorities to look out for a case of possible professional negligence. In addition to this, the Tokyo Police department has also released a statement, stating that the debris on the runway (which belonged to the coast guard plane), is being examined and analyzed by investigators.

In a news conference, Tadayuki Tsutsumi, Managing Executive Officer for Japanese Airlines, came out with a statement, in which he confirmed that the Airbus A350 was given permission to land on Runway C. However, the Coast Guard pilot, who had survived the horrific crash, came out in the media and confirmed that his plane was given permission to use the same runway for take-off. These testimonies have forced the Japanese authorities to look deeper into the cause of accident and uncover the error that led to this tragic incident.

As a part of their investigation, the authorities have examined the debris of the coastal guard plane. In addition to this, the authorities will also conduct interviews with the pilots of both the aircrafts, and the employees at the air traffic control to uncover the reason behind this tragedy.

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