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Updated January 6th, 2024 at 16:43 IST

Japanese safety experts search for voice data amid workers clearing plane debris from runway

The voice data will provide evidence on the exact cause of the collision

Reported by: Business Desk
Edited by: Sharmila Bhowmick
tokyo
The JAL aircraft after the collision. | Image:AP
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Looking for remains: Transport safety officials in Tokyo are looking for a voice recorder from the severely burned fuselage of the Japan Airlines plane which collided at the Haneda airport.

The voice data will help the Japanese officials assess what caused the Airbus 320 to collide with a small coast guard plane on the runway at the Tokyo airport.

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Six experts from the Japan Transport Safety Board were searching for the voice data recorder on Friday, walking through the mangled debris of the Airbus A350-900 that was lying on the runway.

The findings will help experts assess what happened in the last few minutes before Tuesday's fatal collision. 

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Findings so far

JTSB experts have so far secured both the flight and voice data recorders from the coast guard's Bombardier Dash-8 and a flight data recorder from the JAL plane.

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Heavy machinery was deployed for the second day on Saturday to remove debris of the burned plane for storage in a hangar to allow the runway to reopen.

Officials were aiming to reopen the runway on Monday, Transport Minister Tetsuo Saito said.

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The wreckage of the Japan Coast Guard plane had been cleared.

Saito said the airport's traffic control operation would create a new position for monitoring aircraft movement on runways from Saturday onwards.

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It is being speculated that traffic controllers might not have paid attention to the coast guard plane's presence on the runway when the JAL plane was permitted to land.

The Clash

All 379 occupants of JAL Flight 516 were safely evacuated within 18 minutes of landing even as the aircraft was engulfed in flames. The pilot of the coast guard plane also escaped, but its five other crew members lost their lives.

The coast guard aircraft was on a mission to deliver relief goods to earthquake survivors in central Japan, a powerful calamity that killed at least 100 people.

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New Footage

As per new information from media footage at the Haneda airport in Japan’s capital, the coast guard plane moved onto the runway and stopped there for about 40 seconds before the collision.

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The coast guard aircraft is seen entering the runway from the C5 taxiway in the footage, and shortly after which the passenger plane touches down right behind and rams into it.

An orange fireball engulfed the JAL airliner thereafter, covering it with flames and gray smoke. The plane continued moving down the runway before finally coming to a stop.

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The transport ministry released a transcript of the recorded communication at the traffic control, which showed that the air traffic controller told the coast guard plane to taxi to a holding position just before the runway.

This underlined its departure priority as the first.

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The coast guard pilot repeats the instruction, thanking for the elevation in priority after that.

There was no further instruction from the control allowing the coast guard to enter the runway.

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Cos Cooperation for Investigation

A team from the aircraft manufacturer, Airbus, was also joining the investigation, a requirement under international aviation safety rules, according to the board.

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Aviation safety authorities from France, home to Airbus' main management, and Canada, where the maker of Bombardier planes is based, were to cooperate in the investigation. Experts from the US National Transport Board were to provide help with A320's Honeywell-made flight and voice data recorders.

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Published January 6th, 2024 at 09:59 IST

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