Japan updates airport safety measures following fatal jet collision in Haneda

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The Japanese government has upgraded its airport safety measures a week after a collision between a Japan Airlines (JAL) plane and a coast guard aircraft resulted in the deaths of five coast guard personnel.

The reformed policies will focus on air traffic control communication and aircraft operation.

Communication changes

The first amendment is how orders should be communicated and sent out from the control tower. 

Based on investigations and the transcript of communication that took place during the incident, the coast guard captain had likely mistook the term “Number one” (No.1) to mean a green light to enter the runway. “Number one” was actually the term for the control tower to communicate the order of departure for planes in standby.

Because of this miscommunication, the term “Number one” will no longer be used. The control tower will now simply give planes a takeoff clearance to simplify orders. 

A new role

The government also introduced a new role to enhance its airport safety policies. 

A dedicated person whose sole task is to monitor the radar that tracks activity on the runway will be employed. This staff member will immediately notify colleagues when a plane that has not had clearance yet is detected on the runway. 

Japan’s transport ministry plans to introduce this role at other major airports with radar capabilities such as Narita International Airport (NRT)  and Kansai International Airport (KIX).

Additionally, pilots are now also required to relearn command phrases used by the control tower. Runways of major airports in the country will also be repainted for better visibility. 

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