First Accident of 2024
John Vincent, CEO, IFA
On Tuesday 2 January 2024, whilst landing, Japan Airlines flight JAL516, an Airbus A350-900 aircraft collided with a Coast Guard operated DHC-8 aircraft on a runway at Tokyo-Haneda Airport.
The accident is reported to have happened in the dark at 08:47:32 UTC (17:47:32 local time).
My sympathy goes to the friends and families affected by this tragic aviation accident. My thoughts are also with the people of Japan during these difficult times.
Fortunately, there are reported to be no fatalities amongst the crew or passengers of the Airbus A350-900 aircraft.
The exact circumstances of the apparent catastrophic collision are unknown. The images circulating on social media show that the Airbus A350-900 aircraft sustained a considerable impact. The result of this impact was substantial damage and a fire that eventually destroyed the Airbus aircraft.
The indications are that the evacuation of the Airbus aircraft was completely successful. 367 passengers and 12 crew members on-board evacuated the aircraft.
Airport fire and rescue operations met the challenge.
Sadly, the Coast Guard aircraft was destroyed. Japanese authorities have confirmed that there were five fatalities amongst the six people on board the DHC-8 aircraft.
The Airbus aircraft involved in the accident, registered as JA13XJ, was MSN 538, delivered to Japan Airlines on 10 November 2021. It was powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines.
The Japan Transport Safety Board (JTSB) will be in-charge of the accident investigation in accordance with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Annex 13.
This is the first hull loss of an Airbus A350-900 aircraft.
There is much to be learned from this accident given the extensive use of composite material in the construction of the A350 aircraft.
There has been rightful praise for the training, courage, and discipline of the crew of flight JAL516.
Aviation safety is achieved with a competent, vigilant, and learning people at all levels. Aviation is a dynamic global industry.
One message that can be taken from the runway collision in Tokyo is that the aircraft research, design, manufacturing, maintenance, and operations have made great strides over the last four decades. In that time large civil aircraft technical requirements have advanced to protect occupants during and after “survivable” crash scenarios.
Aircraft structural requirements developed for adopting new materials. Aircraft system safety and robustness standards have steadfastly progressed. Aircraft operating procedures and training constantly improved.
Thankfully, the aviation industry, authorities, and international organisations have pursued continuous improvement. There have been setbacks, but lessons learned from accidents and incidents have been and are being learnt. More recently, the widespread application of safety management is ensuring that there’s feedback from every opportunity to lean.
IFA would like to thank all those aviation professionals worldwide who have contributed to making civil aviation such a safe means of travel. Those continuous efforts have often gone unrecognised, but they are highly appreciated and respected.