Japan Airlines: Government provides update on Haneda Airport crash

The Japanese government has provided an update on the Japan Airlines crash at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport yesterday.

On Tuesday evening, an Airbus 350 collided with a De Havilland Canada Dash-8 coastguard plane on its way to provide rescue and relief efforts in Ishikawa following Monday’s earthquake.

The crash claimed the lives of five people onboard the Bombardier aircraft leaving one survivor, 39-year-old Genki Miyamoto, who was piloting the plane.

Meanwhile, there were no passenger or crew fatalities among the 379 onboard the A350 which burst into flames following the collision.

14 passengers and crew reportedly suffered minor injuries. The five dead coastguard crew have been identified as Nobuyuki Tahara, 41, Yoshiki Ishida, 27, Wataru Tatewaki, 39, Makoto Uno, 47, and Shigeaki Kato, 56.

On Wednesday afternoon, Yoshimasa Hayashi, chief cabinet secretary to the government, told reporters: “The Prime Minister has instructed [the transport minister] Tetsuo Saito to assess the current situation and also to identify the cause.

“In terms of the impact on flights, as of 3 January, today, 160 domestic flights and four international flights have been cancelled – and other than Haneda, this also includes the impact on other airports.

“In order to address the transportation needs there are 20 emergency flights in operation. The three runways at Haneda have been reopened as of last night, other than the one that had the accident.”

Hayashi confirmed the transport ministry is working to reopen the closed runway at Haneda. “The JTSB [Japan Transport Safety Board] is investigating the cause of the incident, as well as police,” he added.

The Japan Airlines flight was given clearance by air traffic controllers to land at Haneda Airport, but today there have been reports that the coastguard aircraft did not have permission to be on the runway at the time of the crash.

However, Hayashi refrained from commenting on this when questioned by a journalist.

Officials said on Tuesday that the A350 flight crew reported no problems prior to landing, but that exchanges with air traffic controllers remain under investigation.

The coastguard has also said an investigation is underway to determine how and at what time the collision took place.

Aviation commentators and experts have since come out and praised the Japan Airlines crew for their evacuation efforts, applauding their “professionalism”.

Image credit: NHK