Airbus, the European multinational aerospace corporation, has expressed regret over the collision of Japan Airlines aircraft and a Japan Coast Guard plane, which claimed five lives.
Airbus also assured to provide technical assistance to the Bureau d’Enquetes et d’Analyses (BEA) of France and to the Japan Transport Safety Board (JTSB), the agencies in charge of the investigation.
“Airbus regrets to confirm that an A350-900 operated by Japan Airlines was involved in an accident during flight JAL516 from Sapporo New Chitose Airport to Haneda International Airport shortly after 17:47 (local time) on January 2, 2024. All 367 passengers and 12 crew members on-board evacuated the aircraft,” a statement from Airbus read.
“The A350 collided with a DHC-8 aircraft at landing in Haneda. The Japanese authorities have since confirmed that sadly five of the six people on board the DHC-8 did not survive. The exact circumstances of the event are still unknown,” the statement added
“In line with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Annex 13 recommendations, Airbus will provide technical assistance to the Bureau d’Enquetes et d’Analyses (BEA) of France and to the Japan Transport Safety Board (JTSB) in charge of the investigation,” Airbus stated, adding, “For this purpose, Airbus is presently dispatching a team of specialists to assist the Authorities.”
“Further updates will be provided as soon as consolidated information is available and Airbus is authorised to release them. Our concerns and sympathy go to the families, friends and loved ones affected by the accident,” the statement concluded.
The devastating incident took place at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport on Tuesday.
All 379 passengers aboard the JAL flight from Sapporo, including eight small children, escaped without life-threatening injuries.
The cause of the accident remains unknown, prompting the transport ministry to initiate an investigation into the aircraft’s communications with flight control, according to Kyodo News.
Tragically, five of the six coast guard members on the plane, aged 27 to 56, lost their lives in the crash. The captain, however, managed to escape, according to police reports.
The airport’s immediate response was to close all four runways, causing significant disruptions to air traffic during one of the busiest travel seasons, with many individuals returning to their hometowns for the New Year holidays. Subsequently, three of the four runways, excluding the one where the collision occurred, were reopened around 9:30 pm, according to the transport ministry.
The coast guard plane, en route to its Niigata airport base to deliver relief aid for those affected by the recent magnitude-7.6 earthquake along the Noto Peninsula and the Sea of Japan coast, was on a humanitarian mission at the time of the collision.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida expressed his condolences for the lives lost and instructed relevant ministers to swiftly investigate the incident while assuring the public of transparent information dissemination, according to Kyodo News.
Japan Coast Guard vice commandant Yoshio Seguchi conveyed his deep sorrow at a press conference, stating, “It is extremely regrettable to have lost the precious lives of our members. We offer our sincere condolences to the bereaved.”
Passengers and crew aboard the JAL plane evacuated using emergency slides as the aircraft was engulfed in flames.
Recounting the terrifying experience, one passenger mentioned feeling a bump upon landing, witnessing sparks outside the window, and the cabin filling with gas and smoke.
The passenger plane involved in the incident is identified as an Airbus A350, while the Japan Coast Guard’s aircraft is a Bombardier DHC8-300.
The investigation into this tragic collision is ongoing as authorities work to determine the factors contributing to this unprecedented and sorrowful event, Kyodo News reported.
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