Mick the Ram
2 months ago

Mick the Ram
2 months ago

Miraculous escape for hundreds of Japan Airlines passengers after plane bursts into flames on runway after landing

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by Mick the Ram

 

A plane carrying 379 passengers collided with a smaller aircraft as it landed at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, causing flames to engulf the airliner.

Incredibly, every one of them was able to escape the inferno, along with all the crew as they evacuated via the emergency slides, with fire raging.

Sadly the five of the six people on board the second plane died, with the sixth who was the captain, receiving serious injuries.

The aircraft was a coastguard flight set to head off on a rescue and relief mission, to the area of Japan badly affected by an earthquake 24-hours earlier.

The incident, which occurred shortly before 6pm local time, closed all four of the airport’s runways for a time, although three did re-open several hours later.

The exchanges with flight controllers have been taken away as part of the immediate investigation, trying to determine just how such a terrible accident could happen.

No issues before landing

The Japan Airlines Flight JL516, an Airbus A350, had departed from Sapporo’s New Chitose airport on the northern island of Hokkaido, at 16:00 local time, and touched down at Haneda at 17:47, with no problems reported from the flight crew before landing.

Both aircraft on the same runway

It appears that the Coastguard plane, a De Havilland Dash 8 turboprop, was taxiing before its due take off to Ishikawa, to deliver much needed aid to the earthquake hit area further north.

Somehow, the incoming passenger aircraft was allowed to land on the same runway, so investigators will first of all want to discover if controllers were responsible, leading to such a catastrophic outcome.

Textbook evacuation

Video footage shows it bursting into flames as it speeds down the runway after landing. At that point, with the aircraft still some way from coming to a halt, it looks as if the chances of anybody getting out alive are almost impossible.

Miraculously, the pilots were able to bring the plane to a stop and then with extreme professionalism, the crew were able to execute a near textbook evacuation, remaining remarkably calm in the face of a terrifying situation unfolding literally beneath their feet.

They quickly appreciated that not all exits could be opened and were able to direct passengers to the nearest slides.

The cabin steadily filled with smoke, but early reports seem to indicate that survival instincts kicked in and a scramble to flee the cabin was undertaken in a pretty orderly manner, given the circumstances.

Terrifying ordeal

Passengers were able to speak of their relief as they relived the shocking incident once they were safely away from the burning wreckage. There was talk of hearing a boom and a feeling of hitting something on the runway, followed by the plane jerking upwards.

Then an awareness of sparks and then rapidly flames outside the windows. The smoke that filled the cabin was described as “stinging like hell”, but for many there was just a sense of disbelief at actually getting out, as they looked back at the burnt out wreckage.

Only minor injuries on passenger plane

Fourteen of the passengers and crew suffered minor injuries, which represented something of a miracle, when viewing the incident with flames billowing from the aircraft and the aftermath showing the plane effectively burnt down to its fuselage, which had broken in two.

PM message of sadness for lives lost

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida praised the efforts of the crew and calmness of the passengers before turning the attention to those who lost their lives in the coastguard plane. “This is a great regret as the crew members performed their duties with a strong sense of mission and responsibility for the victims of the earthquake disaster area,” he said.

Specialists to investigate

This is the first major accident involving an A350, which is one of the first commercial jets to be built largely of advanced materials, such as carbon fibre-reinforced plastic.

Airbus is sending a team of specialists to assist in the investigation.

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