Japanese authorities have tightened protocols relating to air traffic control following a fatal collision between a Japan Airlines Airbus A350 and a Japan Coast Guard De Havilland Canada Dash 8. 

In a notice issued 9 January, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) says the beefed-up requirements are aimed at “restoring trust” in civil aviation. 


Source: Screengrab via Youtube/TBS News Dig

A Japan Airlines A350-900 burst into flames after a collision with a Japan Coast Guard Dash 8.

The accident on 2 January, which occured at Tokyo’s Haneda airport, left five Coast Guard crew members dead, and both aircraft completely destroyed. All 379 passengers and crew on the JAL widebody jet successfully evacuated the burning aircraft.

The updated protocols now call for additional staff members at the air traffic control tower to monitor a system that tracks any potential runway incursions. 

The system has been in place at Haneda since 6 January, and is installed at Tokyo Narita, Nagoya, as well as Osaka Itami. The ministry says the radar system will also be rolled out across other major Japanese hubs such as Osaka Kansai and Fukuoka. 

Air traffic controllers will also not inform aircraft about their place in the order for takeoffs, so as to prevent confusion. This measure has been rolled out at Haneda on 8 January and will be implemented at airports nationwide. 

On runway infrastructure, MLIT is mandating “high visibility paint” for holding point signs on taxiways. This comes as investigations revealed that runway stop-bar lights were unserviceable at the time of the accident. These included those on the C5 taxiway where the Coast Guard turboprop was. 

The tightened measures come as investigations into the accident get underway. Runway 34R, where the accident occured, has resumed operations, after the charred remains of both aircraft were cleared. 

A transcript released by Japanese officials suggests that the Dash 8 was not cleared to depart, though this differs from an earlier account by the turboprop pilot, who reportedly said he was given permission to depart. 

A day after the accident, JAL said it believed the A350 had received the go ahead to land at Runway 34R, based on preliminary interviews with the flight crew. 

The accident is the first hull loss involving an A350 since it entered service almost exactly nine years ago. JAL took delivery of the A350 (JA13XJ, MSN53) in November 2021, while the Dash 8 (JA722A) was delivered to the Japan Coast Guard in 2009.