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  • Writer's picturejohn kepler

Fatal Tokyo Airport Crash Caught on Video: What Really Happened?

TOKYO (AP) — A large passenger plane and a Japanese coast guard aircraft collided on the runway at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport on Tuesday and burst into flames, killing five people aboard the coast guard plane, officials said.

Fatal Tokyo Airport Crash Caught on Video: What Really Happened?

All 379 people on Japan Airlines flight JAL-516 got out safely before the Airbus A350 was fully engulfed in flames, Transport Minister Tetsuo Saito confirmed.

The pilot of the coast guard’s Bombardier Dash-8 plane escaped but the five crew members died, Saito said. The aircraft was preparing to take off to deliver aid to an area affected by a major earthquake on Monday, officials said.

Television footage showed an orange fireball erupting from the Japan Airlines plane as it collided while landing, and the airliner then spewed smoke from its side as it continued down the runway. Within 20 minutes, all passengers and crew members slid down emergency chutes to get away.

As firefighters tried to put out the blaze with streams of water, the area around the passenger plane’s wing caught fire. The flames spread throughout the plane, which eventually collapsed. The fire was extinguished after about six hours.

Tuesday’s accident was the first severe damage to an Airbus A350, among the industry’s newest large passenger planes. It entered commercial service in 2015. Airbus said in a statement it was sending specialists to help Japanese and French officials investigating the accident, and that the plane was delivered to Japan Airlines in late 2021.

The A350 had flown from Shin Chitose airport near the city of Sapporo, the transport minister said.

The fire is likely to be seen as a key test case for airplane fuselages made from carbon-composite fibers, such as the A350 and the Boeing 787, instead of conventional aluminum skins.

“We don’t know that much about how composites burn,” said safety consultant John Cox. “This is the most catastrophic composite-airplane fire that I can think of. On the other hand, that fuselage protected (passengers) from a really horrific fire -- it did not burn through for some period of time and let everybody get out.”

JAL Managing Executive Officer Tadayuki Tsutsumi told a news conference late Tuesday that the A350 was making a “normal entry and landing” on the runway, without specifying how it collided with the coast guard plane. Noriyuki Aoki, also a managing executive officer at JAL, said the airline maintains that the flight had received permission to land from aviation officials.

Police are expected to investigate the accident on suspicion of professional negligence, NHK television reported.



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