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Japan ramps up measures to cut risk from falling parts

Japanese efforts to cut the number of incidents involving objects falling from aircraft will include enforcing prevention standards on foreign flights from March next year.

As part of measures to increase runway slot capacity ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020, the country’s airspace authorities are revising arrival routes to Tokyo Haneda – particularly during southerly winds – and these will take flights over the city centre.

Japan’s government has required the country’s airlines to report shed parts since April 2009, according to the Japanese delegation to ICAO’s Air Navigation Conference taking place in Montreal.

The occurrence trend had largely been downwards since the 61 recorded in 2012, but the number of instances rose sharply from 46 in 2016 to 64 last year.

Particularly serious events included the detachment of a 4.3kg panel, which fell onto a car in Osaka in September 2017, and a shower of more than 100 metallic engine parts from a departing aircraft at Kumamoto in May this year.

“Anxiety and concerns of residents toward objects falling off aircraft have increased,” says the Japanese delegation.

The country’s authorities had already implemented various countermeasures such as draining of water-supply pipes before take-off, to prevent ice build-up, and in March this year it set out further strategies.

These include potential aircraft modification, improved root-cause analysis, ramp inspection and maintenance.

“We recognize that preventing [shedding of aircraft parts] is becoming a global challenge,” says the delegation, citing Boeing data which suggests the problem is worsening in Europe and the USA. “However, global measures against objects falling off aircraft are not sufficient.”

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