On 2nd January 2024, a Japan Airlines Airbus A350 collided with a Japan Coast Guard Bombardier DHC-8-300 while landing on Tokyo Haneda’s runway 34R. The A350 was completely engulfed in flames shortly after landing, marking the first hull loss of an Airbus A350 aircraft. Thankfully, everyone onboard the JAL A350 survived the accident.

  • First hull loss of an Airbus A350
  • First hull loss of a JAL aircraft in 39 years
  • First hull loss at Tokyo-Haneda in 42 years

The Airbus A350-900 with registration flight JA13XJ was operating flight JL516 from Sapporo (CTS) to Tokyo (HND) with 379 passengers and crew members on board the aircraft. Whereas, the Coast Guard Bombardier DHC-8-300 with the registration code JA722A was supposed to depart Haneda Airport runway 34R, just after the JAL A350 landed.

However, at 5:47 PM on Tuesday, both aircraft were on the runway at the same time and collided. Footage shared on the internet showed the aircraft erupting in flames as it skidded down the tarmac and fire crews tried to extinguish the fire.

a group of people standing around an airplane
Image via Twitter (Passenger footage)

“Right after the plane touched down, the pilot felt a sudden shock and lost control to stay on the runway. A fire took place but the pilots didn’t recognize it in the beginning and learned about it [through the] cabin attendant.”

Japan AIrlines spokesperson

Evacuation, Injuries & Fatalities

All 367 passengers and 12 crew members of the JAL A350 were able to evacuate from the scene. According to the Tokyo Fire Department, at least 17 crew members and passengers on Japan Airlines flight 516 are confirmed to be injured. Both aircraft have been completely destroyed.

According to the Japan Coast Guard, six people were on board the Japan Coast Guard aircraft, which was operating a mission to support the relief efforts following the earthquakes that impacted Japan on New Year’s Day. The DHC-8-300 was waiting to depart to Niigata.

According to the Police, five crew members from the Japan Coast Guard aircraft died due to the collision with Japan Airlines A350, whereas, the captain escaped with a serious injury and is being treated in hospital.

“On January 2nd, JL516 was involved in a collision with a Japan Coast Guard aircraft during landing at Haneda Airport. We offer our deepest condolences to the families of the Japan Coast Guard personnel who lost their lives as a result and apologize for the distress and inconvenience caused to our passengers, their families, and those affected. The safety of our customers and employees is our number one priority, and we are cooperating fully with the investigation.”

Japan Airlines spokesperson
a fire in a building
Image via Twitter

Flight Operations Disruption at Haneda Airport

Following the incident, Tokyo Haneda closed all runways. Looking at cancellation data for January 02, more than 120 departing flights and 135 arriving flights at Haneda were canceled. This represents approximately 19% and 21% of total departures and arrivals respectively, as reported by FlightRadar24.

The aircraft following JL516 on approach to runway 34R was JL166, a Boeing 737-800 performing a flight from Akita to Haneda. This B737 commenced a go-around at 1,150 feet before diverting to Tokyo Narita Airport.

a collage of a plane on fire

Probable Causes and ATC Communication

Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism has released a transcript of the air traffic control audio communications between the two aircraft and Haneda’s tower. The transcript indicates that the Coast Guard aircraft was only cleared to taxi to the C5 intersection hold short point, and not enter the runway 34R.

Meanwhile, the JAL A350 was cleared to land on runway 34R, so the A350 continued its approach and touched down where it collided with the Coast Guard aircraft.

The transcript below is a machine translation from Japanese. All times local.

a diagram of a runway
Source: Aviation Safety Network

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida expressed concern that the accident should not hinder the delivery of earthquake relief supplies.

“This is a great regret as the crew members performed their duties with a strong sense of mission and responsibility for the victims of the disaster area.”

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida

Footage from the cabin of the JAL A350 landing at Tokyo Haneda Airport.

Feature Image: Issei Kato via Reuters