Tragedy struck at Tokyo’s Haneda airport on Tuesday, January 2, 2023, as a Japan Airlines (JAL) plane collided with a Coast Guard aid aircraft, resulting in the death of five out of six crew members on board the JAL plane. Fortunately, all 379 passengers on the JAL flight managed to escape the engulfed airliner before it was consumed by flames.
Eyewitnesses reported that passengers inside the JAL Airbus A350 (9201.T), (AIR.PA) suffered a terrifying ordeal as the airliner burst into flames while skidding down the tarmac. Chilling video footage and images circulated on social media captured the harrowing scene of smoke-filled cabins and passengers fleeing the aircraft using evacuation slides.
One survivor recounted his experience, stating that he felt a sudden tilt and a powerful jolt as the airplane attempted to land on the runway. The cause of this tragic collision is still under investigation by relevant authorities.
The Coast Guard confirmed that their Bombardier-built Dash-8 maritime patrol plane was en route to Niigata, a city on Japan’s west coast, to deliver aid to victims of a recent powerful earthquake that had claimed the lives of at least 55 people on New Year’s Day. The collision occurred when the JAL aircraft came into contact with the Coast Guard plane on the runway.
Japan Airlines expressed that they believed the flight had received clearance for landing, although ongoing investigations are examining the conversations between the JAL aircraft and air traffic control. The JAL airliner had departed from New Chitose airport on Hokkaido, Japan’s northern island.
Haneda Airport, widely known as Tokyo International Airport, is one of the two major international airports serving the Greater Tokyo Area, with Narita International Airport being the other. Following the accident, Haneda Airport temporarily suspended operations for several hours, but all three runways have since resumed normal service.
Japan Airlines updated the casualty toll, revealing that 14 people on the passenger plane sustained injuries, fortunately, none of which were life-threatening. In contrast, five crew members of the Coast Guard aircraft tragically lost their lives, while the captain survived with injuries.
Transport Minister Tetsuo Saito expressed his condolences and confirmed that the investigation into the cause of the accident was ongoing. The Japan Transport Safety Board will play a crucial role in analyzing the sequence of events leading up to the collision.
The aviation community and the public at large remain in shock over this tragic incident, highlighting the importance of thorough investigations to prevent similar accidents in the future.