Japanese Plane on Third Quake Mission Faces Runway Disaster!

A Coast Guard plane, on its third emergency mission to an earthquake zone in less than 24 hours, collided with a passenger jet at Haneda airport, as reported by a Coast Guard official to Reuters. The official, remaining anonymous due to an ongoing investigation, shared details of the runway crash involving a De Havilland Dash-8 turboprop and a Japan Airlines Airbus A350 (flight number 9201.T). Tragically, five out of six Coast Guard crew members perished, but all 379 passengers on the JAL plane survived. Previously undisclosed details about the Coast Guard plane’s movements before the collision are now under investigation.

The scrutiny of the surviving pilot from the Coast Guard crew intensifies as control tower transcripts, recently released by authorities, suggest he was directed to enter a holding area near the runway before the crash. On Wednesday, the Coast Guard acknowledged that, contrary to the pilot’s claim, there was no indication of permission to enter the runway where the Japan Airlines (JAL) plane was landing in the transcripts.

The factors contributing to the accident remain uncertain, whether it be the volume of airport traffic or the emergency response to the earthquake that struck on January 1, causing widespread destruction and claiming at least 84 lives. Aviation experts emphasize that airplane accidents typically involve multiple variables and the failure of several safety precautions.

In the 24 hours preceding the collision, the Coast Guard aircraft had undertaken two round trips from Haneda to the earthquake zone. This included a 3.5-hour survey of the area shortly after the magnitude 7.6 quake on January 1 and a flight carrying rescue workers that returned early on January 2, as reported by the official. Reuters independently verified the timings using flight tracking data on adsbexchange.com.

Airport was Crowded With Full Capacity!

Tokyo Haneda, ranked as the world’s third busiest airport by OAG, saw an average of 1,290 daily departures and arrivals in December, according to Cirium’s flight schedules data analyzed by Reuters. The day of the tragic accident, a public holiday in Japan, witnessed the airport operating at full capacity, as noted by Shigenori Hiraoka, director general of the Civil Aviation Bureau.

For the Coast Guard, it was no ordinary day either. The ill-fated plane had returned earlier that morning with a different crew from a mission delivering relief workers to an earthquake-devastated area, revealed a Coast Guard official to Reuters. Captain Genki Miyamoto, 39, and his crew, stationed at the Haneda Coast Guard base, were gearing up to transport food and water back to the earthquake zone. The disaster prompted the mobilization of thousands of rescue workers in response.

The aircraft completed its second mission, returning to Haneda at 2:30 a.m. and leaving the base hangar again by 4:45 p.m., as per the official. The collision occurred at 5:47 p.m., during a particularly busy day at the airport, contrary to the Coast Guard’s usual mid-morning flight schedule on less crowded runways.

Captain Miyamoto, who piloted the ill-fated plane, had a hectic schedule. The day before, he conducted a 7-hour mission to Japan’s southernmost island, Okinotori, surveying a Chinese vessel. He returned just after the earthquake struck around 5 p.m., and at that point, his mission for the following day was not scheduled, according to the official.

Suffering severe burns in the crash, Miyamoto was unavailable for comment. With nearly five years as captain and 3,641 flight hours, his experience was significant.The destroyed aircraft, JA722A, had previously survived the 2011 tsunami at Sendai airport in northeast Japan, experiencing water damage but undergoing restoration and returning to Haneda the following year, as detailed in an official Coast Guard newsletter.

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