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Escaped passengers recall tense moments in Japan Airlines jet blaze

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Absolute nightmare scenario. I was on a plane a week ago and the prospect of getting down those narrow aisles in a hurry in an emergency always fills me with dread. People do strange and stupid things at the best of times, but when there is a fire, you clearly need to get off quickly.

Here's a thought though. If any group of people are going to be able to follow instructions and do what is being asked of them in this situation, it's the Japanese. Foreign media outlets are marvelling at the fact that no-one died and that the evacuation was done efficiently, but it's no real surprise. As a non-Japanese, if I had to evacuate a burning plane, I'd much rather do it with a flight full of Japanese that with my fellow countrymen, that's for sure.

Very well done.

29 ( +42 / -13 )

which had just landed at Haneda airport from Sapporo in northern Japan.

The well worn route to Sapporo. My thoughts and prayers to the coast guard families.

10 ( +15 / -5 )

What horror! How can anyone make any comment on such a horror?

-19 ( +2 / -21 )

It’s a tense situation when a plane starts to burn on landing.It’s a relief that all managed to escape without harm.

The fact that there was a plane on the landing runway is extremely serious and the reason for that mistake has yet to be divulged but whatever the fault, hopefully something can be learned and corrected.

17 ( +19 / -2 )

Just curious - were all the Passengers Japanese Nationals, or were any Foreign Nationals involved ?

1 ( +11 / -10 )

If any group of people are going to be able to follow instructions and do what is being asked of them in this situation, it's the Japanese.

Tamarama, I couldn't agree more with your comments. Although I have visited Japan many, many times since 2017, I still consistently marvel at the courtesies that the Japanese give to each other, and society in general. The Japanese strike me as VERY organized and polite people (in general). Knowing the Japanese culture, despite the emergency, I am sure that their instincts kicked in and they likely lined up politely, and exited row by row in a relatively organized, speedy, and controlled manner. I'm guessing, of course, but likely also with little pushing and shoving.

My heart goes out to the families of the brave Coast Guard crew that lost their lives in the disaster. Thankful that this disaster could have been MUCH worse than it was.

18 ( +28 / -10 )

Here's a thought though. If any group of people are going to be able to follow instructions and do what is being asked of them in this situation, it's the Japanese.

Massive shout out to the JAL crew. They all deserve big bonuses! Absolute heroes.

Hearts go out to the poor Coast Guard crew who were attempting to deliver aid to their countrymen after the earthquake. They'll never be forgotten.

17 ( +28 / -11 )

Shout out also to the foreign nationals on board - my understanding is there were many (most likely skiers and snowboarders). They followed the JAL staff instructions perfectly - which would have been mostly in Japanese of course.

Certainly some stories to be told and photos to show when they get home from their Japan vacation!

13 ( +19 / -6 )

No passengers died there, except Coast Guard airplane crews. That is at least good news.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

The JAL flight struck the smaller coastguard aircraft, which was waiting to deliver aid to the earthquake-hit Noto peninsula.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

It seems to me that JAL pilot or JCG pilot misheard the instruction from air-traffic controller.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Wow ... JAL seems pretty sketchy!!!! Yikes ;-(

-15 ( +5 / -20 )

@TokyoOldMan I know there was a Swedish family on board!

8 ( +8 / -0 )

There needs to be enquiry over this unfortunate accident, was It a catalogue of failures or was it down to traffic control? A pilot? Either way this is very sad for everyone.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Just curious - were all the Passengers Japanese Nationals, or were any Foreign Nationals involved ?

@TokyoOldMan I know there was a Swedish family on board!

At least 12 Aussies on-board also. I think many of us who have skied in Hokkaido have flown that route.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

It must have been terrifying for the passengers.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

TamaramaToday 06:39 am JST

> As a non-Japanese, if I had to evacuate a burning plane, I'd much rather do it with a flight full of Japanese that with my fellow countrymen, that's for sure.

This is a great point. I fly a lot to/from Japan to the USA. And some of their airlines have zero criteria to be seated in an exit row. I see it all the time, old, frail, and people that would have a tough time reaching for their shoelace (or see their own shoe), let alone trying to help the crew.

I try to sit in the exit row whenever I can because I am physically fit and able to assist if the other two in the row can not.

16 ( +18 / -2 )

@kwatt

It seems to me that JAL pilot or JCG pilot misheard the instruction from air-traffic controller.

Miscommunication must be happened here, we'll see whose mistake was that. There shouldn't be two airplane facing each other on the same runway, that's what really happening here.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/graphics/2024/01/02/japan-coast-guard-plane-crash-graphics/72083108007/

.

Japanese news finally show where JAL plane and where JCG plane, most previous coverage only focus on JAL plane without showing where JCG Plane location.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_3tdzfjyXM

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Hard to believe a terrible disaster resulting in many deaths was avoided after seeing the videos of the incident.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

There shouldn't be two airplane facing each other on the same runway, that's what really happening here..

Yes, the much bigger size of the JAL plane is what saved all the passengers..

7 ( +7 / -0 )

There needs to be enquiry over this unfortunate accident, was It a catalogue of failures or was it down to traffic control? A pilot? Either way this is very sad for everyone.

NHK is reporting that the JCG plane was not following ATC instructions. The JAL plane had permission to land and the JCG plane was told to not proceed to the runway.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

> TamaramaToday 06:39 am JST

Here's a thought though. If any group of people are going to be able to follow instructions and do what is being asked of them in this situation, it's the Japanese. Foreign media outlets are marvelling at the fact that no-one died and that the evacuation was done efficiently, but it's no real surprise. As a non-Japanese, if I had to evacuate a burning plane, I'd much rather do it with a flight full of Japanese that with my fellow countrymen, that's for sure.

I've probably seen every episode of "Mayday," as it's called here in Japan, but actually titled "Air Crash Investigation," where airplane accidents are recreated to find out the causes. There are many instances of people from around the world remaining calm and listening to flight attendants' instructions and also instances of people who panicked. I'd say nationality does not play a role but the severity of the situation dictates how people act. If the heat becomes unbearable and the smoke is acrid and you cannot see or breathe, you would probably panic, regardless of where you were born. Anyway, this one sounds like it has elements of the worst disaster in history in Tenerife in 1975 or so, where there was information misheard and not heard at all due to language and just sheer bad timing. That led to one plane trying to take off as one was taxiing and there was a huge collision with over 500 dead. Glad there were very few casualties in this one, but even one is too many. RIP.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

In the videos being shown everywhere, the airliner catches fire while moving at high speed. Was it still landing? It looks too fast to be taxi-ing.

Its easy to take a dim view of one's countrymen but I bet mine would rise to the occasion if stuck on a plane rapidly filling with smoke. Any selfishness you may observe in more normal situations, like trying to get a seat on the bus, would be out of the window.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Two days and two disasters. My nan used to say "disasters come in threes". I hope not. Stay safe.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

It was great to hear the news that they got everyone off the JAL plane.

The experts are all saying the most likely cause was a miscommunication between the flight controller and the coast guard plane. It was taxiing onto or waiting on a runway with a plane landing.

The Year of the Dragon is starting out like Smaug on crack.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Long-term PTSD for some of the passengers.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

I wonder what aviation fuel the planes used?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The million dollar question is, how did the collision happen? Somebody is responsible. Was it the control tower or one of the pilots? There were nearly 400 people on the plane. This could have easily been a lot worse.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

There shouldn't be two airplane facing each other on the same runway, that's what really happening here.

They weren't facing each other. The JCG plane crossed the hold short line of an active runway and entered it at the approach end to take off when the JAL aircraft was already on final approach. The JCG aircraft was essentially sitting on the spot where the JAL aircraft was about to touch down when it landed and was basically run over and crushed from behind by the much larger JAL Airbus when it landed. One of three causes (or a combination of them) is possible: 1) the JCG aircraft entered the active runway without clearance from Air Traffic Control, 2) the JAL aircraft landed without clearance from ATC, 3) ATC gave clearance to both aircraft to simultaneously take off and land from the same runway. The ensuing investigation will uncover which error(s) resulted in the deaths of the five JCG aircrew and the complete destruction of both aircraft.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

One thing that is not mentioned in the article is that when evacuating, no passengers brought off any hand or cabin luggage. This would have assisted in the rapid deplaning of the passengers and crew.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@USNinJapan2

JAL-516 already received clearance, now focus will be ATC and coast guard plane.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2024/01/03/japan/jal-flight-cleared-tokyo-collision/

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Elvis is hereToday  11:50 am JST

I wonder what aviation fuel the planes used?

I think it's called JP1A and it's a type of kerosene. It burns at higher temperatures than gasoline so it's considered safer for fires.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The evacuation was executed properly and amazingly, but we are most curious about exactly how the airplane crash happened to avoid a similar occurrence in the future. This could happen again soon.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

it is thankful that all onboard the passenger plane survived. My heart goes out to the families of those onboard the Coast Guard plane.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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