A collision between a Japan Airlines plane and a smaller coastguard aircraft on the runway at Tokyo’s Haneda airport resulted in the airliner bursting into flames. Although all 379 passengers and crew on board were successfully evacuated, tragically, five out of the six crew members on the coastguard plane lost their lives, with the captain sustaining injuries.
The incident occurred after the Japan Airlines Flight 516, arriving from Sapporo on the northern island of Hokkaido, landed at Haneda. The plane skidded on the blazing runway and became engulfed in flames. Emergency services spent hours battling the fire, leading to the closure of all four runways at Haneda and causing significant disruptions to travel plans for thousands of passengers.
Praising the crew for their quick and effective evacuation, air safety experts commended their actions in ensuring the safety of all passengers. Passengers described the terrifying moment of impact, with one recounting a sensation of hitting something and experiencing a sudden upward jerk upon landing. The runway became a scene of chaos as sparks flew, the cabin filled with gas and smoke, and the airliner caught fire.
Despite the prompt evacuation via an emergency slide and the subsequent efforts of passengers running across the tarmac to safety, the tragic loss of lives among the coastguard crew cast a somber shadow over the incident. Additionally, the coastguard aircraft, identified as a De Havilland Dash 8 turboprop, was on its way to assist with rescue and relief efforts following a recent earthquake in Ishikawa, forming part of a fleet of four planes dedicated to the quake site mission.
As the investigation into the collision unfolds, the cause of the tragic incident remains unclear, prompting the coastguard to delve into the circumstances and timing of the contact between the two aircraft. Furthermore, in response to the incident, Japan Airlines issued a statement acknowledging the collision and subsequent fire, expressing heartfelt condolences for the deceased coastguard members. The airline emphasized the paramount importance of the safe evacuation of their passengers and crew in the face of the unfolding crisis.
Television footage vividly captured the severity of the incident, showcasing fire trucks at the scene, smoke billowing from the Airbus, and distressing footage from inside the aircraft, revealing passengers surrounded by thick smoke. Moreover, Tokyo police officially confirmed the devastating outcome, reporting the deaths of the five coastguard crew members and the severe injury sustained by the pilot within hours of the blaze. This incident serves as a stark reminder of the challenges and inherent dangers faced in aviation, even during routine landings at major airports.