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Haneda Airport Air Traffic Controllers Stop Informing Planes of Takeoff Order; Part of Emergency Safety Measures

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Haneda Airport’s Runway C (foreground), which has resumed operations, and the control tower. Photo taken Monday from a Yomiuri Shimbun helicopter.

Air traffic controllers at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport have ceased to inform aircraft of their takeoff order, such as “number one” and “number two,” from Monday, following the collision between a Japan Airlines plane and a Japan Coast Guard aircraft on the runway of Haneda Airport in Tokyo. The Yomiuri Shimbun learned from sources at the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

The move is part of emergency measures to ensure safety, and the ministry plans to expand it to all domestic airports in Japan in the future.

The air traffic controller in charge at the time of the accident explained to Japan Transportation Safety Board that the Coast Guard aircraft was given priority over other planes as the first to depart. While several commercial aircrafts were waiting around Runway C, the controller told the Coast Guard aircraft, which was scheduled to fly to support disaster-stricken areas in the Noto Peninsula, that it was “number one,” meaning the first to take off.