Runway safety concerns in focus as Japan probes Tokyo crash

January 3, 2024 5:57 pm

[Source: Reuters]

Japanese investigators are preparing to probe the collision of two airplanes at Tokyo’s Haneda airport, weeks after the global airline industry heard fresh warnings about runway safety.

All 379 people aboard a Japan Airlines (9201.T) Airbus A350 escaped after a collision with a De Havilland Dash-8 Coast Guard turboprop that killed five of six crew on the smaller aircraft.

People familiar with the investigation said the Japan Safety Transport Board (JTSB) would lead the probe with participation from agencies in France, where the airplane was built, and Britain where its two Rolls-Royce engines were manufactured.

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Experts have cautioned it is too early to pinpoint a cause and stress most accidents are caused by a cocktail of factors.

But investigators are widely expected to explore what instructions were given by controllers to the two aircraft, alongside a detailed examination of plane and airport systems.

A ministry official told reporters in Japan on Tuesday that the A350 was attempting to land normally when it collided with the Coast Guard plane, also known as a Bombardier Dash-8.

One of the first tasks will be to recover black box recorders with flight data and cockpit voice recordings.

Experts said the location of the accident means physical evidence, radar data and witness accounts or camera footage are likely to be readily available, easing the huge forensic task.

“One obvious question is whether the coastguard plane was on the runway and if so why,” said Paul Hayes, director of aviation safety at UK-based consultancy Ascend by Cirium.