At Least 3 JCG Crew Members Believed to Have Mixed Up ATC Instructions Before Haneda Collision

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Officials investigate the Japan Coast Guard plane wreckage on Thursday.

At least three crew members on the Japan Coast Guard plane were believed to have been listening to instructions from air traffic control, who told them to hold at a taxiway connecting to a runway before the fatal collision with a Japan Airlines jet at Haneda Airport on Tuesday, according to sources.

There is a growing possibility that multiple crew members had mixed up the instructions, causing the tragedy.

Six crew members — a captain, and a co-pilot, a radio operator, a search radar operator, and two mechanics — were on board the JCG aircraft, which was about to leave for Niigata Prefecture, loaded with relief supplies for the Noto Peninsula Earthquake which occurred the previous day.

According to sources, after the JCG plane started moving, the captain, copilot and one of the mechanics were believed to have been listening to communications with air traffic control using headsets.

However, the aircraft crossed the holding point and entered Runway C without receiving permission from air traffic control, and stayed on the runway for about 40 seconds, leading to the fatal incident.

The Japan Transport Safety Board has recovered the voice recorder containing cockpit audio from the JCG plane to investigate in detail the conversations between the crew members right before the collision.