Police probe possible negligence in Tokyo runway collision

Police probe possible negligence in Tokyo runway collision
Police probe possible negligence in Tokyo runway collision

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Officials investigate a burnt Japan Coast Guard aircraft after a collision with Japan Airlines' (JAL) Airbus A350 plane at Haneda International Airport in Tokyo, Japan January 3, 2024. ― Reuters pic

TOKYO, Jan 3 ― Police will investigate whether a crash between an airliner and a smaller plane at a Tokyo airport may involve professional negligence, media outlets reported today, as authorities began inspecting the charred wreckage and runway for clues.

All 379 people miraculously escaped the Japan Airlines (JAL) Airbus A350 which erupted into flames after colliding with a De Havilland Dash-8 Coast Guard turboprop shortly after landing at Haneda on Tuesday evening.

Five of the six Coast Guard crew, responding to a major earthquake in the country's west, died.

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Once a recurring safety problem, aviation experts say the number of such runway collisions or incursions have become far less frequent with modern ground tracking technology and procedures.

The crash came just weeks after the global airline industry heard fresh warnings about runway safety.

Japan Airlines said in a statement yesterday the aircraft recognised and repeated the landing permission from air traffic control before approaching and touching down.

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According to air traffic control recordings available at liveATC.net, the JAL plane was cleared to land at 1745 local time, minutes before authorities say the collision occurred.

The Coast Guard has declined to comment on the exact circumstances surrounding the crash, including why the plane was on the runway and whether it was stationary or moving when disaster struck.

The plane, one of six Coast Guard aircraft based at the airport, had been involved in a mission to deliver aid to regions hit by a deadly earthquake on Monday.

Two investigations

Japanese authorities say the cause of the crash remains unclear.

Metropolitan Police Department will conduct an investigate into whether possible professional negligence led to deaths and injuries, news outlets including Kyodo news agency, Jiji and Nippon TV reported, citing police sources.

A police spokesperson said a special investigation unit had set up at the airport and was investigating the runway and planning to interview people involved, but declined to comment on whether they were looking into possible professional negligence.

As well as the police probe, the Japan Safety Transport Board (JTSB) is also investigating the crash, with participation from agencies in France, where the Airbus airplane was built, and Britain where its two Rolls-Royce engines were manufactured, people familiar with the matter said.

Airbus said it was also sending technical advisers to assist in the investigation.

JTSB has recovered flight and voice recorders from the coast guard aircraft, Kyodo news agency reported, citing the agency.

While all passengers and crew were evacuated around 20 minutes after the crash, the aircraft was completely engulfed in flames and burned for more than six hours, the airline said.

Authorities were set to begin work to remove the charred remains of the JAL aircraft in the afternoon, Kyodo reported, while TV footage showed police and fire department personnel inspecting the site of the accident today. ― Reuters

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