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The 'textbook' evacuation from Japan jet inferno

24 Comments
By Hiroshi HIYAMA and Etienne BALMER

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Mr. QToday  07:05 am JST

Everyone seems to be praising the escape, but 18 minutes seems really long. The passengers could have easily been killed by smoke inhalation. The doors should have been open seconds after coming to a stop.

379 passengers, 1 chute (in a panic situation).... something like 3 seconds a person.... imagine it. seems pretty rapid to me....

27 ( +30 / -3 )

If Japan has some form of official honour, every member of that crew should get it.

22 ( +26 / -4 )

A shout out specifically to the flight attendants… a lot of us overlook just how absolutely critical their professionalism, training, and presence of mind is until dire events like this occur… They are surely as petrified as everyone else in these situations, but they are the ones tasked with getting passengers off as quickly and as safely as possible in potentially horrific circumstances. They did a marvellous job!

19 ( +22 / -3 )

Mr. QToday  07:05 am JST

Everyone seems to be praising the escape, but 18 minutes seems really long. The passengers could have easily been killed by smoke inhalation. The doors should have been open seconds after coming to a stop.

They would have first needed to evaluate what doors to open, if they got that wrong people could have been going down a slide into the flames. Thats why the small delay.

18 ( +21 / -3 )

If it really was 18 minutes, it sounds like an eternity with the plane already burning. But remember they only had one exit for at least a while, although at least one rear slide eventually was able to be used. If these timelines are correct and the carbon fiber fuselage really did resist the flames for that long I'm impressed.

Land I'm impressed with the cabin crew and passengers followed the rules....if anyone had opened the wrong door in a panic many would have died.

18 ( +20 / -2 )

Kudos to the flight attendants, but I would wonder how it would have unfolded if this wasn't a domestic flight packed with Japanese traveling for New Years, and instead was an inbound flight from abroad half full (or more) with non-Japanese.

Please, let's not turn this into a "only Japanese people could have survived". Japanese do have fantastic disaster survival awareness. They need it. But there were many non-Japanese on this flight (many skiers and boarders) who also followed the instructions immaculately.

The flight attendants had about 15 minutes to get everyone off the plane before multiple deaths - they performed brilliantly as they'd been taught in training.

9 ( +13 / -4 )

David Kaminski-Morrow, air transport editor at aviation news website FlightGlobal said: "I wouldn't personally call the successful evacuation of the JAL flight a 'lucky escape', although the passengers might believe so."

Instead, he added, an efficient evacuation showed "what can be achieved by evacuating promptly and efficiently".

For all the problems and issues present in Japanese society this cooperation and efficiency in times of emergency are something to praise. People orderly following instructions is what allowed every passenger and crew to evacuate to safety. I can't imagine the same thing happening if a significant portion of the passengers were trying to get ahead of others or insisting on bringing all their luggage during the evacuation.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

"Passengers seemed to have followed instructions in a textbook manner,"

Kudos to the flight attendants, but I would wonder how it would have unfolded if this wasn't a domestic flight packed with Japanese traveling for New Years, and instead was an inbound flight from abroad half full (or more) with non-Japanese.

Apparently one of the biggest benefits to the evacuation was that nobody was seen carrying anything as they slid out and ran from the plane. I highly doubt most other citizens of the world would willingly abandon their stuff so readily.

The Japanese characteristics of abandonment of material things and group-think obedience (both of which are constantly lambasted by non-Japanese, especially in JT comments) seemed to have saved them.

7 ( +15 / -8 )

The evacuation seems to have been successful due to a fortunate combination of the professionalism and bravery of the crew, and the prevailing culture of following instructions in Japan. Result - every soul in that plane saved. Respect and kudos should flow in abundance to JAL, its excellent crew and the culture that contributed to this outcome.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

Tough for the people at the end of the line to wait so long (anything over 1 min in a smoke-filled cabin would be hellishly long!) but props to the JAL crew for doing their job and doing it right. In the air, on the ground, they nailed it.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

367 passengers out of a partially burning plane in 18 minutes is probably a well done job, Congrats to the crew, and all those who helped keeping this evacuation smooth and under control.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

The Japanese characteristics of abandonment of material things and group-think obedience (both of which are constantly lambasted by non-Japanese, especially in JT comments) seemed to have saved them.

Totally agree, It called critical thinking. I only fly JAL because the air crew are the best in the world and should be held up as world best practice. They way they deal with the flying public is a sight worthy of prise. The way they manage children one would swear there was no children on the flight. The Japanese are the best at disaster mangement. During the 11/3 I was staying on the 35 th floor of the hotel In Tokyo after it, I made my way down to the foyer on the 25th floor and people were just standing around then a hotel staff came up to me and told me to stay and wait for the after quake then we will exit down the fire stairs. He was very claim which claim myself down. It the Japanese awareness to the situation that there was no panicking.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

They did the job they have been trained to do well done. I hope they and the passengers will get some counseling, must have been traumatic, specially knowing that the plane they were on killed 5 people. And the fact they were within minutes of being causalities themselves. My Condolences to the families of the 5 that gave their lives to help the victims of the earthquake.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

From today's Asahi: "Communication records show a Japan Coast Guard airplane was not given permission to enter a runway at Haneda Airport before the deadly collision with a Japan Airlines passenger jet, the transport ministry said.

"The Coast Guard and JAL had both indicated earlier that their planes were given the right of way before the Jan. 2 accident on the runway in Tokyo that killed five people."

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Airbus has a lot to answer for that the escape doors not opening on a new plane.

Should have been 6 doors minimum, 3 on each side.

Not sure how you came to this conclusion. From what I've read, they opened all the doors that were safe to open.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Meanwhile, while we're patting the backs of those involved with the safe and rapid evacuation of passengers, I will ask you, "Do you take care to watch the flight evacuation and safety videos shown in the flight cabin every time you fly in an aircraft?" And me? Yes, I do. Every time.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

379 passengers, 1 chute (in a panic situation).... something like 3 seconds a person.... imagine it. seems pretty rapid to me....

Three out of 8 chutes were open, and the plane is designed to evacuate 400 passengers in 90 seconds with half of the chutes available.

Obviously it will take longer in a real-life situation, but it also seems several minutes passed before the exits were opened.

Not blaming the cabin crew, just trying to provide information this article lacks.

Hayashi told the paper it took about three to five minutes for flight attendants to pry the doors open while panicked passengers crowded to the front.

https://nypost.com/2024/01/03/news/inside-the-terrifying-escape-from-japan-airlines-flight-516/

But the third safe exit in the rear could not be cleared because the public announcement and intercom systems were no longer functioning. The cabin crew then made the correct decision to open the door anyway, allowing passengers to slide down the evacuation chutes, JAL said.

https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/how-japan-airlines-crew-led-367-passengers-safety-burning-plane-2024-01-03/

I also read somewhere that one of the engines didn't turn off, so not sure if that contributed to the delay in opening the doors.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Everyone seems to be praising the escape, but 18 minutes seems really long. The passengers could have easily been killed by smoke inhalation. The doors should have been open seconds after coming to a stop.

0 ( +18 / -18 )

Evacuation time was about 20 seconds per passenger. I think that was fast and effective given the seriousness of the situation.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

“Courage is grace under pressure.”

. . . Ernest Hemingway

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Airbus has a lot to answer for that the escape doors not opening on a new plane.

Should have been 6 doors minimum, 3 on each side.

Thanks to the crew and flight attendants for saving so many lives.

Deserve a medal.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

AlongfortherideToday  07:52 am JST

Mr. QToday  07:05 am JST

Everyone seems to be praising the escape, but 18 minutes seems really long. The passengers could have easily been killed by smoke inhalation. The doors should have been open seconds after coming to a stop.

They would have first needed to evaluate what doors to open, if they got that wrong people could have been going down a slide into the flames. Thats why the small delay.

I've read that the other doors wouldn't open!

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

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