Japan Coast Guard Crash May Have Been Comms Confusion

Tokyo Haneda Airport
Updated Published

According to Japanese media, the Japan Coast Guard aircraft that was hit by a landing passenger jet has encountered confusion over who had the right to use Tokyo’s Haneda Airport runway. 

A Japan Coast Guard Dash-8 aircraft was awaiting departure on Tuesday evening. The aircraft was bound for Niigata to deliver aid to the victims of Japan’s recent earthquake. Whilst waiting close to the runway, an Airbus A350 passenger plane, the Japan Airlines Flight 516, flew in for landing. 

Both aircrafts collided and caught fire. All crew and passengers from the larger airliner escaped, with coast guard crew members being killed. The Dash-8 aircraft’s sole survivor, the pilot, was left seriously injured. 

NHK was told by an official with the Japanese Coast Guard that the coast guard aircrew had clearance from the air traffic controller for use of the runway. 

However, this was not the case according to Japan’s transport ministry, who stated that the controller asked the Coast Guard pilot to stay away from the runway. Japan Airways informed the media that Flight 516 had clearance to go ahead with landing. 

Black box flight data recorders from the Dash-8 have been recovered, according to investigators. This may help shed some light on the moments leading up to the collision. 

The A350 was in bad condition after being badly burned, and the search for its data recorders is still ongoing.