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Remaining Japan Coast Guard Aircraft at Haneda Base Continue to Be Grounded Due to Staff Trauma After Fatal Jan. 2 Accident

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The remains of the Japan Coast Guard airplane destroyed in a collision with a commercial aircraft is seen at Haneda Airport on Jan. 4.

All three remaining fixed-wing aircraft deployed at the Japan Coast Guard Haneda Air Station will remain grounded for the time being as personnel struggle with trauma following the death of five colleagues in a collision with a Japan Airlines airplane on a Haneda Airport runway on Jan. 2, it has been learned.

Nearby JCG air stations are currently covering for the Haneda station, while its personnel undergo mental treatment and safety reeducation procedures.

According to sources, there were four fixed-wing aircraft at the air station. A mid-size Bombardier MA722 was completely destroyed in the Jan. 2 accident. In addition, a large Gulfstream LAJ501 has been inoperable after its right wing was struck by a service vehicle while on the ground at the airport on Jan. 4.

There is an additional plane of both types in the fleet, but both are currently undergoing routine maintenance checks at facilities either in Japan or overseas, the sources said.

A mid-sized plane will complete its maintenance check and will return to service as early as Friday. However, the JCG, citing the need to provide mental health care by specialists to those suffering psychologically or physically in the aftermath of the tragic collision, has decided to keep the plane grounded. The air station’s helicopters are also being kept grounded, and it is unknown when any will return to the air, as safety review are also underway.

The Haneda Air Station has jurisdiction over a vast expanse of ocean, spreading from the coastline between Ibaraki and Shizuoka prefectures and including the waters around the Ogasawara, Okinotori and Minamitori islands. It is responsible for maritime surveillance and search and rescue operations using helicopters and planes.

On Jan. 1, a LAJ501 was dispatched to monitor Chinese vessels near Okinotori Island.

Until operations resume at Haneda, the JCG will use planes out of its bases in Miyagi and Osaka prefectures, as well as the SeaGuardian drone that is capable of flying for long hours.

“We want to provide safety and security through efficient operations,” said a senior JCG official.