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JCG Plane Stayed on Runway for 40 Sec. Until Collision; Air Traffic Controllers ‘Unaware’

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Work is underway to remove the Japan Airlines plane at Haneda Airport on Friday.

The Japan Coast Guard plane that collided with a Japan Airlines jet on Tuesday stayed for about 40 seconds on Runway C at Haneda Airport before the collision occurred, transport ministry sources said.

The JCG plane remained on the runway, despite not getting instructions to do so, whilst air traffic controllers in charge of Runway C said that they were unaware the plane entered the runway. The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry and the Japan Transport Safety Board will examine the details of how air traffic controllers were monitoring the runway.

The communication records released on Wednesday indicate that the JCG plane was instructed by air traffic controllers at 5:45:11 p.m. on Tuesday to proceed to a holding point on the taxiway and after the JCG side repeated the instruction, the plane began moving. However, according to footage and other data, the JCG plane did not stop at the holding point and entered the runway without receiving permission from the controllers then stayed on the runway for about 40 seconds until it collided with the JAL jet at around 5:47:30 p.m., sources said.

Haneda Airport has four runways with two air traffic controllers overseeing each runway in operation. Of the two, one controller is responsible for aircrafts traveling from an apron to a taxiway. Including assistant controllers, air traffic control is usually staffed by around 15 people at the airport.

The air traffic controllers in charge of Runway C said during interviews with ministry officials that they did not request the JAL jet to abort its landing and make a go-around since they were unaware the JCG aircraft had been moving in a manner that differed their instructions.

The ministry and the safety board will also examine how the air traffic controllers monitored taxiways and other ground areas, as well as their interactions at the time of the accident and how roles were divided among them.