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Relatives commemorate victims of JAL crash on 35th anniversary

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In fact I copied and pasted his entire post. The “it was dark” bit just struck me as particularly bizarre.

Which you extracted to suggest he was kidding. However, darkness was not the only factor; we do know that emergency services work in the dark where conditions permit (and in the case of airliners, when they crash, they are often obliging enough to do it at or near airport runways) but we also know that search and rescue operations of all types are frequently called off in darkness, particularly in remote terrain, and in mountains or on water. There are many additional risks involved.

An airliner, packed to the gills with passengers, had just crashed. Dont tell me at least a few rescuers wouldnt have made an exploratory search for survivors in those conditions - dark or not.

A JSDF helicopter did locate the wreckage and did not find signs of survivors. It did not land; at any time, it is appropriate for a pilot to make such a decision, for the safety of himself, his crew, his aircraft, as well as people and structures on the ground. It is not an unreasonable decision to call off landing in the mountains at night, and this mountain was heavily forested. An alternative would have been to lower men onto the mountain, but that is also not risk-free is such conditions. Again, it's a decision that can be made by a pilot based on his own judgement, and he can also be directed not to land for that or other reasons by his superiors.

So. No one's joking.

All the talk about letting the Americans go in because they're supposedly more competent and professional and they were willing to go in there: it's not their call, nor their jurisdiction, and 30 years of kibitzing about how many lives they would have saved is pointless speculation. They didn't save any, and they don't have rights in situations like this beyond responding to requests from the Japan side.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

You extracted the phrase from a wider point that Albaleo was making. Darkness in difficult terrain does make an important difference, and increases the danger for rescuers.

In fact I copied and pasted his entire post. The “it was dark” bit just struck me as particularly bizarre. An airliner, packed to the gills with passengers, had just crashed. Dont tell me at least a few rescuers wouldnt have made an exploratory search for survivors in those conditions - dark or not.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It was dark”. You have got to be kidding.

You extracted the phrase from a wider point that Albaleo was making. Darkness in difficult terrain does make an important difference, and increases the danger for rescuers. You might care to find some pictures of the crash site, it was steep, mountainous terrain with dense tree cover.

An American aircraft did locate the crash site 20 minutes after the 18.56 impact - not a helicopter but a C130, and only minutes before full darkness. Americans were in no position to put people on the site in daylight, and even if a helicopter had been dispatched immediately from Yokota, it could not have arrived before darkness. It is pure speculation to assume that the American military would have done a much better job, but in any case, that is well outside their jurisdiction, and the decision was not in their hands.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Sucks whichever way you look at it. Poor maintenance; poor supervision; poor leadership; poor decision making - all on the ground.

Those pilots busted their asses off to get that plane down in one piece and they were let down.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is the absolute truth. Indeed more people would probably have survived if the Japanese govt had allowed the US military to carry out rescue.

This is the absolute truth. Indeed more people would probably have survived if the Japanese govt had allowed the US military to carry out rescue.

This is the absolute truth. Indeed more people would probably have survived if the Japanese govt had allowed the US military to carry out rescue.

This is far from clear. It seems understandable that the JSDF would take over given the communication issues involved with rescue teams on the ground. A JSDF helicopter had already located the crash site when the decision to wait until morning was made. That may have been the wrong decision, but it's also possible the US military would have made the same decision on closer inspection. (It was dark, the terrain was difficult, the wreckage was spread over a wide area.) We'll never know.wait until morning was made. That may have been the wrong decision, but it's also possible the US military would have made the same decision on closer inspection. (It was dark, the terrain was difficult, the wreckage was spread over a wide area.) We'll never know.wait until morning was made. That may have been the wrong decision, but it's also possible the US military would have made the same decision on closer inspection. (It was dark, the terrain was difficult, the wreckage was spread over a wide area.) We'll never know.

It was dark”. You have got to be kidding.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Good on the relatives.

I hope they find some comfort and healing.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This is the absolute truth. Indeed more people would probably have survived if the Japanese govt had allowed the US military to carry out rescue.

This is far from clear. It seems understandable that the JSDF would take over given the communication issues involved with rescue teams on the ground. A JSDF helicopter had already located the crash site when the decision to wait until morning was made. That may have been the wrong decision, but it's also possible the US military would have made the same decision on closer inspection. (It was dark, the terrain was difficult, the wreckage was spread over a wide area.) We'll never know.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

There seems to have been an earlier accident the plane was involved in which damaged the plane,

Wikipedia's take on the accident, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japan_Airlines_Flight_123

Boeing took responsibility for the repairs according to NYT article shortly after the crash,

https://www.nytimes.com/1985/09/08/world/boeing-says-repairs-on-japanese-747-were-faulty.html

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Alfie Noakes: After the plane crashed the first responder was a US Air Force helicopter from Yokosuka, just 20 minutes after the crash. They called Yokosuka and rescue teams were rolling when the Japanese govt ordered them to stand down, saying the JSDF would handle it. The JSDF didn't arrive at the crash site until the following morning. Only four people survived. They said others had survived the crash but died on the mountain during the night.

This is the absolute truth. Indeed more people would probably have survived if the Japanese govt had allowed the US military to carry out rescue.

Hard to believe such flabbergasting incompetence, unless you’ve lived in Japan.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

First of all, RIP to all the victims. They were failed by a few different people, agencies and companies. Every August, this accident is on mind and the accident re-creation is shown on the Canadian show Air Crash Investigation regularly. From what I see, they pretty much placed the blame on Boeing doing shoddy work on the pressure bulkhead and JAL taking the brunt of the blame. Any way you slice it, the victims paid the ultimate price and the 2 companies got off lightly.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@wipeout and M3

Thanks for the information. The graphic clearly shows the incorrect splicing.

While reading around I came across the remarkable story of Susanne Bayly, a British woman whose "lover," Japanese banker Akihisa Yukawa, the father of her 2 children, was killed in the crash.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/6010716/Japan-Airlines-Flight-123-The-crash-that-made-outcasts-of-my-children.html

4 ( +4 / -0 )

“Erik Morales

Bless these wonderful Japanese victims and their beloved families. It is always sad when Japanese lives are lost in an accident. From the USA please accept my condolences.”

Yes PLUS, bless these wonderful 21 non-Japanese boarded the flight. 4 from Hong Kong, 2 from Italy, 2 United States, and 1 West Germany, and 1 United Kingdom. It is always sad when ANY lives are lost.

RIP to all, from NYC

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@Alfie Noakes

So why didn't the Boeing engineers repair the bulkhead with a double row of rivets?

I think this is still a mystery. As the article above mentions, Boeing refused to cooperate with the Japanese criminal investigation so the case didn't get very far.

And weren't there any engineers from JAL overseeing the work?

I assume they were around, but to what extent should they be held responsible? I don't know. Maybe JAL contracted Boeing precisely because they recognised their own lack of internal expertise in knowing exactly what the FAA requires, like how many rivet rows when reattaching part of a bulkhead? Is this something the average airline mechanic would know, as opposed to an airline manufacturer? I'm not sure. Generally, when you hire a licensed outside expert you are entitled to rely on their expertise and pass any liability onto them if something goes wrong.

Also, is this the report that the JAL Union refused to accept?

Sorry, I can't help you there. I'm not familiar with the union's objections.

@daito_hak

JAL was responsible anyway to do the post-repair safety check

Again, JAL is entitled to rely on Boeing's expertise and assume that the work was carried out to the agreed upon standard. You can't just throw out the words 'safety check' and expect airlines to be responsible for structural repairs that may not show signs of metal fatigue until a catastrophic failure.

For example, if I take my car to a licensed mechanic to have my wheels aligned, am I expected to check the quality of his work even if it's entirely beyond my expertise as an average car owner? Am I responsible if a tire suddenly falls off a week later? Airlines are in a similar position vis-a-vis Boeing when it comes to major structural repairs that require expert knowledge.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

The movie with Ken Watanabe is very highly recommended.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

American military could have saved many more because they were heir first, but bumbling Japanese government wouldn't let them because of the "national humiliation" of having gaijin do their jobs. So many more were left to die overnight just so the Japanese government could save face. Disgusting.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Boeing alone carried out the repairs at Haneda using its own staff, and Boeing alone certified the plane as airworthy. Airlines don't make major structural repairs to their own aircraft. 

What a silly Japanese apologism. It's never the fault of Japanese, it's always the others. All airlines, and I say all airlines are responsible for the maintenance and safety check of their planes. Even if we accept the fact that Boeing personals didn't carry out the repair itself properly (which is already quit a stretch of the mind), JAL was responsible anyway to do the post-repair safety check and make sure that the plane was properly serviced. No serious airline flies a plane after such sensitive repair without serious safety check, which was obviously not done since anything which is touched on a place has to follow strict specifications. If the repair was not done properly, it should have been easily spotted with a safety check to confirm that the plane was safe to fly. That was the sole responsibility of JAL which they didn't do to save money since there were rushing to have the plane back to service. That cost the life of 520 people.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

We mustn't forget this accident...

He did piloting without giving up to last.

I want to be a pilot like that JAL flight 123's captain.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@Alfie Noakes

The improper repairs ( using a single row of rivets instead of two as specified by Boeing) were carried out by Japanese JAL employees hired by Boeing. The technicians were ordered by JAL to repair planes as cost efficiently as possible.

Descriptions of the repair fault centre on the use of two splice plates instead of a single continuous splice plate. There were three rows of rivets, but the manner of repair resulted in only two rows securing each splice plate.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japan_Airlines_Flight_123#/media/File:JA8119_Bulkhead_Repair_en.png

> The plane had also been modified by JAL to fit even more seats in, which is why so many people died. Several JAL staff and one Boeing employee committed suicide after the crash.

The plane (747-146 SR) was a 747 variant designed by Boeing to meet a request from Japanese airlines for a high-capacity aircraft for use on short-range (ie primarily domestic) flights. It was (of course) FAA-certified. JAL was the only airline using this particular aircraft; ANA bought later variants but operated them with fewer seats. 29 SR aircraft were built; the highest capacity in use (JAL) was 563 seats. 747-SR aircraft were in use by Japanese airlines over a period of 30 years.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I was only 5 years old at the time, but what I remember is that my mother was crying because her favorite Japanese singer, Kyu Sakamoto, died in the crash. He sang the song 上を向いて歩こう (called "Sukiyaki" in English).

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Check and double check. Go watch the Climber's High movie about it

0 ( +1 / -1 )

M3 - thanks

4.1.6 Boeing will perform the work and services in accordance with engineering and repair techniques established under FAA approved procedures to be inspected by Boeing personnel to Boeing standards.

7.1 The repairs were conducted by a repair team dispatched from the Boeing Company, and composed of more than 40 persons involving engineers, inspectors, and other members.

That's the Japanese Ministry of Transport report, isn't it. All very nice and neat. So why didn't the Boeing engineers repair the bulkhead with a double row of rivets? And weren't there any engineers from JAL overseeing the work? Also, is this the report that the JAL Union refused to accept?

9 ( +10 / -1 )

RIP to the victims of cruel, corporate capitalism.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

@Alfie Noakes

Every article I've read about this says that JAL repaired the rear pressure bulkhead

I recommend reading the Accident Investigation report itself.

Some excerpts from Attachment 1 of the report starting on page 259 of the pdf:

It was decided the repairs of the aircraft be conducted at Tokyo International Airport by the Boeing Company, the manufacturer of the aircraft, and a repair contract was concluded between JAL and the Boeing Company.

The following letter of agreement was exchanged in connection with the contract: Repair Agreement No. 6-1171-7-2757 dated June 10 1978....

4.1 The outline of agreed items on the repairs was as follows:

4.1.1 Boeing will accomplish the repair of the aircraft in the JAL hangar facility at Tokyo International Airport.

4.1.2 Major repairs are as follows: [lists items to be repaired]

4.1.3 Boeing will procure necessary parts and materials as determined by Boeing.

4.1.4 Boeing performs removal of certain equipment for functional check by JAL and reinstalls it on the airplane.

4.1.5 Boeing submits to JAL results of the repairs and inspections in FAA approval Form 337

4.1.6 Boeing will perform the work and services in accordance with engineering and repair techniques established under FAA approved procedures to be inspected by Boeing personnel to Boeing standards.

7.1 The repairs were conducted by a repair team dispatched from the Boeing Company, and composed of more than 40 persons involving engineers, inspectors, and other members.

https://www.mlit.go.jp/jtsb/eng-air_report/JA8119.pdf

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

You seem to be confused on this point.

Every article I've read about this says that JAL repaired the rear pressure bulkhead with one row of rivets instead of two, and this caused the eventual crash. Boeing accepted responsibility to cover for JAL's safety procedure failure. I'd be happy to read any articles which shed further light on this murky affair.

13 ( +15 / -2 )

@Alfie Noakes

The improper repairs ( using a single row of rivets instead of two as specified by Boeing) were carried out by Japanese JAL employees hired by Boeing. The technicians were ordered by JAL to repair planes as cost efficiently as possible. 

You seem to be confused on this point. Boeing alone carried out the repairs at Haneda using its own staff, and Boeing alone certified the plane as airworthy. Airlines don't make major structural repairs to their own aircraft. Perhaps some of the Boeing engineers or subcontractors might have been former JAL engineers (I have never heard this), but JAL was not overseeing the repairs or responsible for certification.

Even if JAL requested the cheapest possible repairs from Boeing (as most airlines do), Boeing is not entitled to ignore FAA mandated repair standards or certify aircraft that are not actually airworthy.

I've never flown on JAL and I never will.

Maybe you shouldn't fly on Boeing?

-8 ( +5 / -13 )

“Even though it is physically difficult, I feel that my daughters are waiting for me on the mountain on the 12th,”

heartbreaking but beautiful at the same time ...

8 ( +8 / -0 )

There have been lots of terrible plane crashes during my life, but what stood out about Japan Airlines Flight 123 was that everybody on board knew that the plane was going down and they were going to crash and that they had several minutes to prepare themselves. Some prayed, some cried, some wrote farewell letters, etc. Usually people don't have time to reflect on their lives with airline crashes because they are usually so sudden and violent and everything is over in a moment, but that was not the case with Flight 123. It begs the question, would you rather life ended in a split second without any warning, or would you prefer to have a half hour to prepare yourself fully aware of meeting death? This question may sound more than a little weird to some, but I asked myself that a lot at the time when it happened.

RIP

15 ( +15 / -0 )

I have also heard what Alfie Noakes said. In fact, I heard the American military wanted to send out rescuers before the plan actually crashed when they realised it was out of control.

14 ( +14 / -0 )

The improper repairs ( using a single row of rivets instead of two as specified by Boeing) were carried out by Japanese JAL employees hired by Boeing. The technicians were ordered by JAL to repair planes as cost efficiently as possible. The plane had also been modified by JAL to fit even more seats in, which is why so many people died. Several JAL staff and one Boeing employee committed suicide after the crash.

After the plane crashed the first responder was a US Air Force helicopter from Yokosuka, just 20 minutes after the crash. They called Yokosuka and rescue teams were rolling when the Japanese govt ordered them to stand down, saying the JSDF would handle it. The JSDF didn't arrive at the crash site until the following morning. Only four people survived. They said others had survived the crash but died on the mountain during the night.

The JAL Union refused to agree to the findings of the official report made by the Japan Aircraft and Railway Investigation Commission.

I've never flown on JAL and I never will. RIP to the victims.

29 ( +30 / -1 )

Bless these wonderful Japanese victims and their beloved families. It is always sad when Japanese lives are lost in an accident. From the USA please accept my condolences.

-8 ( +6 / -14 )

Also:

JAL paid ¥780 million (US$7.6 million) to the victims' relatives in the form of "condolence money" without admitting liability.

15 ( +16 / -1 )

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