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Japan Announces Measures to Prevent Runway Incursions After Haneda Collision; Steps Set for Several Busy Airports

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A Japan Airlines aircraft lands at Haneda Airport on Monday afternoon.

The government announced emergency measures Tuesday aimed at ensuring aviation safety, including the introduction of a system of assigning personnel to constant runway approach monitoring, following a collision between a Japan Coast Guard aircraft and a Japan Airlines jet on a runway at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport on Jan. 2.

The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry will appoint personnel in charge of constant runway approach monitoring at Haneda and six other airports to prevent runway incursions.

Also, starting Monday, giving aircraft instructions using terms such as “No. 1” and “No. 2” was suspended for the time being at Haneda Airport, also as part of the measures.

“No. 1,” for instance, suggests the aircraft is next in line to depart. The measure will be expanded to all domestic airports.

“Based on the objective data we have at this point, we have compiled safety and security measures that can be taken immediately to prevent an accident like the latest one from occurring again,” Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Tetsuo Saito said at a press conference after Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting.

A system is in place at the seven airports with a large number of arrivals and departures to indicate runways in yellow and aircraft in red on the control tower’s monitor screens when a runway incursion is detected by radar.

The system was performing normally at the time of the accident, but air traffic controllers were unaware of the incursion. The ministry therefore decided to put personnel in charge of constant runway approach monitoring at the seven airports.

It has been learned that a controller addressed the JCG aircraft as “No. 1,” suggesting the aircraft was next in line to depart, when instructing it to proceed to a holding point outside the runway.

Since this may have led to a misunderstanding on the part of the JCG plane, the ministry determined that it was necessary to clarify aircraft control instructions regarding runway approach.

On Monday, using the terms “No. 1” and “No. 2” was suspended for the time being at Haneda Airport. This will be extended to all domestic airports.

The emergency measures also included increasing the brightness of the color of signs at the holding point in front of runways at Haneda and seven other airports.

The ministry also announced the establishment of a panel to discuss steps such as strengthening safety measures or introducing new initiatives. The first meeting of the panel is expected to be held as early as next week.