Japan Airlines transcript: Coast Guard plane was not cleared to enter runway

Japan Airlines logo on the Airbus A350 tail
ryo-a / Shutterstock.com

The Japanese Transport Ministry has released a transcript showing conversations between air traffic controllers and two aircraft moments before they collided at Haneda Airport (HND) in Japan.    

The transcript, published on January 3, 2023, suggests that the Coast Guard de Havilland Canada DHC-8-315Q had not been cleared to enter the runway.  

The transcript is taken from conversations lasting for four minutes and 27 seconds prior to the crash. It also confirms that the Japan Airlines Airbus A350 was given permission to land on Runway C. 

According to the transcript, several seconds after the Japan Airlines jet was given the go-ahead to land, the Coast Guard plane was told to proceed to a holding point on a taxiway, an instruction the pilot repeated back.  

Around two minutes later, the two aircraft collided on the runway as the A350 landed, resulting in the death of five people aboard the Coast Guard plane. 

Miraculously, despite the Japan Airlines being destroyed in a fire all 379 people on the passenger plane, including 12 crew members, managed to escape.  

The only survivor from the Coast Guard DHC-8 aircraft was the plane’s captain, who nevertheless suffered serious injuries.  

According to a Coast Guard official, the captain said he had entered the runway after getting permission. 

However, the official in question acknowledges that there was nothing in the transcripts to confirm this.  

Alongside the crash investigation, Japanese police are also looking into the incident to understand whether professional negligence led to the five deaths.  

Japan Safety Transport Board (JTSB) representatives and four investigators from the Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA) in France were at the accident site on January 3, 2023.  

Flight 516 left Sapporo New Chitose Airport (CTS) on January 2, 2023, shortly before 4.30 pm local time, and landed at Haneda Airport 4.47 pm.     

As it landed, the A350 collided with the Coast Guard plane which was being used to deliver aid to a region of Japan hit by an earthquake on January 1, 2023.     

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