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.© Japan Today