The fallout from Tuesday’s collision between a Coast Guard aircraft and a Japan Airlines (JAL) passenger jet at Haneda Airport continues. NHK reports that more than 200 domestic flights scheduled to take off on Friday, mainly to and from Haneda, have been canceled. There will be more disruptions on Saturday with JAL dropping 100 flights and All Nippon Airways scrapping 96. Those numbers could increase depending on the situation at the airport in Tokyo.

Fiery Plane Collision at Haneda Airport

At approximately 5:47pm on January 2, a Coast Guard aircraft collided with a Japan Airlines (JAL) passenger jet at Haneda Airport (officially Tokyo International Airport), killing five of the six people who were inside the smaller vessel. It was set to deliver aid to survivors of the 7.6 magnitude earthquake in Ishikawa Prefecture. The JAL airbus burst into flames, yet remarkably, all 379 on board were safely evacuated. The passengers on the burning JAL plane rushed to emergency exits without their hand luggage as instructed by crew members. The evacuation has been described by the Japanese media as a “miraculous 18 minutes.”

Pilots Unaware of the Fire

Remarkably, the JAL pilots were unaware that their jet was on fire. A spokesperson for the company, told the BBC that a flight attendant informed them of the blaze. “Right after the plane touched down, the pilot felt a sudden shock, and lost control to stay in the runway. A fire took place but the pilots didn’t recognize it in the beginning and learned about it [through the] cabin attendant,” said the spokesperson. There were three pilots and 12 flight attendants on board.

The Coast Guard plane’s captain — the only survivor from the smaller vessel — reportedly told investigators he had been authorized to enter the runway where the JAL airliner had been approaching. However, according to flight control communications released by Japan’s transport ministry on Wednesday, the Coast Guard Bombardier Dash-8 hadn’t been given permission for take-off. The control tower’s instruction for the plane was to “taxi to holding point C5.” The transcript shows that the Coast Guard aircraft acknowledged this in what was the last transmission before the collision.

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