Japan Airlines: Coastguard plane was not cleared for take-off

The coastguard plane that collided with a Japan Airlines flight on Tuesday evening was not cleared for take-off, transcripts of air traffic control’s instructions show.

Japanese authorities have confirmed that the De Havilland Canada Dash-8 on its way to bring relief to parts of Japan affected by Monday’s earthquake did not have permission to take-off.

The collision with the Airbus 350 claimed the lives of five of the six coastguard crew onboard. Nobuyuki Tahara, 41, Yoshiki Ishida, 27, Wataru Tatewaki, 39, Makoto Uno, 47, and Shigeaki Kato, 56, all died as a result of the collision.

Only the pilot of the Dash-8, 39-year-old Genki Miyamoto, survived. Meanwhile, all 379 passengers and crew onboard the Japan Airlines flight evacuated the aircraft on the runway at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.

On Wednesday, it was confirmed that the Japan Transport Safety Board (JTSB) had retrieved the flight and voice recorders from the coastguard plane.

ARGS reported earlier today that it was speculated the coastguard crew did not have clearance to take-off, despite a spokesperson for the Japanese government declining to comment on this when questioned by a journalist.

According to officials, the coastguard aircraft’s last communication with the air traffic control tower was to repeat the instruction “taxi to holding point”.

The transcripts appear to contradict the coastguard plane’s captain – the only one of the six crew to survive – who told investigators he had been given permission to enter the runway which the A350 was approaching, BBC News reports.

According to local media, Tokyo police are investigating whether professional negligence could have contributed to the crash.

Hiroyuki Kobayashi, aviation analyst and former Japan Airlines pilot, said: “There’s a strong possibility there was a human error. Aircraft accidents very rarely occur due to a single problem, so I think that this time too there were two or three issues that led to the accident.”

Image credit: BBC News