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ANA jet aborts take-off after SDF copter cuts across its path at Naha airport

28 Comments

The Japan Transport Safety Board said Thursday it will send a team of investigators to Naha airport on Okinawa after two communications mishaps occurred at the airport on Wednesday afternoon.

According to the transport ministry, an ANA Boeing 737 carrying 83 passengers and crew prepared to take off for Sapporo at 1:24 p.m., Fuji TV reported. As the plane started moving along the runway, a CH-47 helicopter belonging to the Air Self-Defense Force cut across its path, forcing the ANA plane to abort its take-off and stop on the runway.

Meanwhile, another 737 operated by Japan TransOcean Air -- which was scheduled to land on the same runway -- went ahead with the landing despite being asked by air traffic controllers to circle the airport. The Japan TransOcean Air plane, carrying 44 passengers and crew, pulled up about 400 meters behind the ANA plane.

The airport is used by both civilian and SDF aircraft. However, airport authorities said the helicopter did not have clearance to fly across the runway.

Fuji TV quoted an ASDF spokesperson as saying the pilot of the helicopter had mistaken the control tower's transmission granting clearance for take-off intended for the ANA flight, as permission for the copter instead.

Meanwhile, the pilot of the TransOcean Air plane said he didn't receive the message from the control tower until the plane had actually landed.

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28 Comments
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Fadamor

http://news.aviation-safety.net/2015/06/03/ana-boeing-737-800-in-serious-double-runway-incursion-incident-at-okinawa-airport-japan/

Here's the actual footage of the incident. JA80AN touches down only ten seconds after NH16494 comes to a stop? That's stacked pretty tight IMO. Aside from the JASDF Chinook mishearing NH16494's takeoff clearance for it's own (an honest mistake), I'd say that Naha's tower has some explaining to do.

Flight NH1694 came to stop about 1800 m past the runway threshold. The JTA Boeing 737 stopped at 1280 meters past the runway threshold, at the taxiway E3 turnoff.

JA80AN was out of service for maintenance.

No doubt because the breaks were gone after stopping in such a short distance. I'd hardly say that landing went as intended on the JTA pilot's part.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I hear you and agree, BUT, bottom line the JTO 737 crew should have seen the ANA 737 stopped on the runway well before touchdown and aborted their approach. They essentially landed on a runway already occupied by a big white airliner in broad daylight with unrestricted visibility (0 precip / 10 mi vis yesterday @ 1330). That simply can't be excused by RT issues or claims of what was or wasn't heard by whom. As I said earlier, if the JTO 737 pilots really didn't notice the ANA 737 sitting on the runway they were approaching, that's a problem. If they DID see it and still landed, that's also a problem.

There have been multiple times where I have been on short final with an aircraft at the other end of the runway about to enter a connecting taxiway. I'm kind of wondering why the ANA 737 remained on the runway after they aborted. The fact that the JTO 737 stopped on the runway with 400 meters to go before reaching the ANA 737 tells me the ANA plane was down at the other end of the runway. The JTO pilot probably assumed the ANA plane would be taking the first available taxiway rather than just stopping on the runway. Looking at Naha on Google Earth, there appears to be plenty of connecting taxiways the ANA plane could have used to clear the runway.

The local (tower) controller failed badly here by not ensuring separation between the inbound helo and the departing 737.

Both aircraft were on the ground at the start of the incident. There was no issue of separation. The helo mistook the ANA 737's clearance to take off as their own and the helo took off from Naha without permission to do so.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The local (tower) controller failed badly here by not ensuring separation between the inbound helo and the departing 737. With the aborted takeoff roll fouling the runway, local's primary responsibility was to ensure the safe wave-off of the inbound 737. At every tower I've worked in, that means positive acknowledgement on tower frequency or guard frequency, light gun, or as a last resort that fat red button for the approach-end wave-off flares. The tapes will tell the tale, but the primary cause is going to be controller error, with serious questions about the actions of the inbound 737.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Fadamor

I hear you and agree, BUT, bottom line the JTO 737 crew should have seen the ANA 737 stopped on the runway well before touchdown and aborted their approach. They essentially landed on a runway already occupied by a big white airliner in broad daylight with unrestricted visibility (0 precip / >10 mi vis yesterday @ 1330). That simply can't be excused by RT issues or claims of what was or wasn't heard by whom. As I said earlier, if the JTO 737 pilots really didn't notice the ANA 737 sitting on the runway they were approaching, that's a problem. If they DID see it and still landed, that's also a problem.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In this article, there is no indication that the Tower declared the runway closed, only that they requested the Trans-Ocean Air flight to perform a go-around. What's going to need to happen is the same as what would happen if there had been a collision. The FDR and the CVR of the two aircraft along with the recording from the tower will be synched-up to determine the EXACT sequence of events: details like exactly WHAT was said by the tower that caused confusion in the SDF helicopter, and exactly WHEN the Trans-Ocean Air flight was asked to go around with respect to where it was on Final. Until that is done, all this chatter on JT about things is mere speculation.

For you professional ATCs and pilots: How many times have you issued or replied to a communication only to have it "stepped on" by another transmission, rendering your transmission unintelligible? I could EASILY see the Trans-Ocean pilot not hearing the go-around from the tower until he was already down, because the original tower request was probably "stepped-on" by the ANA pilot's complaint to the tower about the helicopter. What was heard by each aircraft will only be known when the CVRs are examined. Until then, calling the participants liars is a bit out of line.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

As a passenger, I would feel safe if PIC have the final authority over ATC, although he/she should only override in the name of safety (and if time allows, they do inform ATC before taking action). It's clear ATC will have more information at hand but PIC has a better awareness of the situation in front of him at times that ATC can't observe (and time can't be wasted to deal with such situation). And I don't see why there's this disagreement since both seem to be stating pretty much the same thing; just disagreeing if this particular PIC took the right action or used his/her authority properly.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Which is why need to wait for a report before trying to claim his pilots license.

Even if it was deemed to be attributable to human error, there can be mitigating circumstances. Did he hear the RT clearly? Was there uncertainty about other traffic? Did he see something the local controller didn't?

Remains to be seen.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

If ATC closes a runway and I land on it in spite of them telling me not to, I had damn well better have declared an emergency. The only time I can ignore ATC commands is if the aircraft is physically unable to comply, or if those commands would put me in danger. Short of an equipment failure, there's no valid reason to ignore a "go around" command.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Cool. I'll just tear up my license. Thanks guys. I obviously chose the wrong career.

I was military air traffic for 11 years, I've been civil for ten. Trust me when I say that if a pilot wants to land and sees it as the safest option, no subsequent board of enquiry on the planet will question his choice if he knows exactly what to say.

We don't know all the facts; once replays are seen, transcripts are read and CCTV is analysed we can work out what happened, until then it's mere speculation.

I could tell you of many occasions where my executive control has been ignored, and in all cases the pilot was in a reasonable position to do so. Right the way up to Class A airspace.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Fred hunt: "Ultimate decision on land/no land is with the captain of the aircraft, irrespective of what ATC say. That's a global thing."

Wrong. And anyway, if that's the case and the pilot is right, why is he now backtracking and saying, "Meanwhile, the pilot of the TransOcean Air plane said he didn’t receive the message from the control tower until the plane had actually landed."

The guy saw another plane on the runway and wasn't communicating with the tower?? Either he's lying to cover up the fact that he was wrong, or he is incredibly irresponsible and should have his license taken away and then some.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Fred Hunt

If he/she feels that safety may be compromised by not landing then he can go ahead and land.

That's pretty funny. What exactly would be a situation where not landing on a runway you're being waved off of by the tower compromises safety more than disregarding the wave off and landing on said runway anyway with a 737 parked squarely on it. The only time a pilot would be able to override the tower's call to wave off is if he has declared an emergency and can't stay airborne and is incapable of spooling back up and taking another turn in the pattern. That certainly wasn't the case with this JTO 737 so what's your point? I'm incredulous that, assuming the JTO flight crew didn't hear the tower's instruction to wave off as claimed, they didn't see the ANA 737 stopped on the runway they were approaching and if they did see it chose to land anyway. 21 years as ATC? And you still think the pilot had the authority to disregard the tower telling them not to land because there's traffic on the runway? I'm a pilot and have been for 15 years. I'm a military aviator so can barely fog a mirror but I'm pretty sure I know what I can and can't do.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

SDF needs to move to Futenma.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The ultimate decision on whether to land or not resides with the pilot. If he/she feels that safety may be compromised by not landing then he can go ahead and land.

I'm an air trafficker and have been for 21 years. I kind of know my stuff.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Fred Hunt

Ultimate decision on land/no land is with the captain of the aircraft, irrespective of what ATC say. That's a global thing.

Say what? You are quite mistaken. If permission to land on a particular runway has already been given by the tower, THEN it's the pilot in command's call whether he chooses to go through with the landing or abort/wave-off and reenter the pattern because of weather conditions, equipment issues, safety hazard on the ground, etc. In this case Naha Tower effectually closed the runway because the ANA 737 aborted its takeoff role and was still on it and instructed, not requested as the article insinuates, the JTA 737 to wave off it's approach and go back around. Now, we have no idea how close to landing the JTA 737 was when it failed to hear/heed the tower's order, but I don't care if he was on final with gear down and dirty he is supposed to follow tower's instructions and wave off. The PIC of the aircraft is NOT the one who determines the safety condition or availability of the runway. Tower alone has that authority. Tower gives the pilot permission to land on a designated runway and the pilot has the authority to land or not. But he does not have the authority to override or disregard tower if he is told that he no longer has permission to land on said runway. Naha's runway 18/36 is only 2999 meters long. The JTA 737 was a 737-400 which requires 1725 meters to land. The JTA pilot is extremely lucky that the ANA 737 didn't stop its take-off role any shorter on the runway and left him enough runway to land and stop. If the ANA flight had stopped much earlier we'd probably be reading about a collision between two 737s with multiple casualties.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Without knowing the outcome of the investigation that's quite a bold statement.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

It seems that all pilots of ANA, SDF and TransOcean must be very easygoing persons who never pay much attentions to the traffic on the one runway.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

The Transocean pilot deemed that it was still safe to land and he did.

Ultimate decision on land/no land is with the captain of the aircraft, irrespective of what ATC say. That's a global thing.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Harry_Gatto

English. Always.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Two 737s and an SDF chopper -- could have been more than 100 killed. Where's the outrage by Okinawans over the lack of safety and dangers of these machines and the SDF?? Not one, but TWO major blunders by pilots who either 'misunderstood' or IGNORED the control tower!! And sorry, but: "Meanwhile, the pilot of the TransOcean Air plane said he didn’t receive the message from the control tower until the plane had actually landed" in yesterday's news the pilot was quoted as saying that "The plane's captain reportedly said that he recognized another jet was on the runway, but thought that it would pose no problem for landing," -- it most certainly did NOT say that he didn't hear it.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Which language is used by ATC when talking to SDF aircraft and Japanese airlines on domestic flights?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Just imagine the Brouhaha if that had been an American chopper.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Catastrophe avoided by seconds, because these vehicles are moving fast, even when taking off and landing, 400 metres? A blink of an eye. Reads to me that all goes back to the tower. Good --in a way-- that it happened, now it can be trained out of future situations.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Just the latest episode in a long list.

Remember the aircraft that had to do a go-around recently at an SDF administered airport (due to a vehicle on the runway). There have also been unauthorized entries to airport areas. My personal favorite, however, is the during air-intercept training over the Sea of Japan, one F15 shot down his wing man. That incident was called an "accident", however, at the time the pilot involved said "I couldn't resist".

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

sounds like we have a bigger problem than just the SDF. Scary to think about flying when there are multiple mistakes in basic communication around the same time.

Don't forget the passenger control issue back in March, when passengers were allowed to wander into secure areas.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Japan is so short of unoccupied flat land that its military must share runways with civilian airports.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

the pilot of the helicopter had mistaken the control tower’s transmission granting clearance for take-off intended for the ANA flight, as permission for the copter instead.

Meanwhile, the pilot of the TransOcean Air plane said he didn’t receive the message from the control tower until the plane had actually landed.

sounds like we have a bigger problem than just the SDF. Scary to think about flying when there are multiple mistakes in basic communication around the same time.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Sounds like the pilots were on auto pilot

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Someone needs retraining. He could have caused a major catastrophe

3 ( +4 / -1 )

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