Japan Airlines crash transcript contradicts Coast Guard captain's story

Wreckage of Japan Airlines A350.
Via Kyoto/REUTERS

  • Now we know better what caused the Japan Airlines crash in Tokyo.
  • A Japanese Coast Guard plane that collided with a passenger jet during landing was not allowed to take off.
  • Transcripts taken shortly before the crash appear to contradict the Coast Guard pilot's claim.

A Coast Guard plane that collided with a Japan Airlines passenger jet this week was not cleared for takeoff, according to a traffic control transcript detailing the moments before the crash.

A Coast Guard aircraft was instructed to taxi to a location near the runway at Tokyo's Haneda Airport on Tuesday evening. Bloomberg reportedCiting the transcript.

But the plane's captain said after the crash that he had “cleared to take off”. Japanese media reported.

A person on board the Coast Guard plane acknowledged the order for a taxi, Bloomberg reported.

“Taxi to holding point C5 JA722A No. 1, thank you,” he said, citing a Bloomberg transcript. It is not clear whether the speaker was the captain or his co-pilot.

Five of the Coast Guard plane's six crew members died; The captain was the only survivor and badly injured after the crash, Reuters reported.

The Japan Airlines passenger jet that crashed into the Coast Guard plane was cleared to land, records show.

All 379 passengers escaped before the plane burst into flames after landing – even though the intercom system was broken and more than half of the emergency exits were unusable.

Experts said the passengers and crew survived because they listened to the flight crew and left their luggage behind.

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Japan's Safety Transport Board is working with British and French government agencies to investigate the crash, Reuters reported.

Airbus is built in France and its Rolls-Royce engines are built in England, Reuters reported.

“The Ministry of Transport is submitting objective material and will … cooperate fully with the investigation.

Correction: January 3, 2024 — An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of the Tokyo airport. This is Haneda Airport, not Hanata Airport. Japan Airlines also misrepresented where parts of the aircraft were manufactured. The aircraft was built in France and its engines were built in England.

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