(CNN) — The Japan Coast Guard plane that collided with a passenger plane at Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport only had instructions to “taxi to holding point” and was not cleared to take off, an air traffic control communication released this Wednesday shows. The official transcript shows.
In a deadly incident, Japan Airlines Flight 516 crashed after landing in front of a Coast Guard aircraft on the runway this Tuesday, creating a massive fireball.
All 379 people traveling on the Japan Airlines (JAL) plane were evacuated safely. According to Japanese Transport Minister Tetsuo Saito, five of the six crew members of the smallest coast guard plane died.
Saito this Wednesday made public a transcript of more than four minutes of communications between air traffic controllers and the two planes just before the crash, indicating that the Japan Airlines flight had received clearance to land.
According to the transcript, air traffic control cleared the JAL airliner to land on Runway C at 5:43:26 pm local time (3:43:26 am ET).
However, the transcript does not show clear takeoff approval for the Coast Guard aircraft. Instead, it tells you to “rotate to holding point” at 5:45:11 pm (3:45:11 am ET). According to the transcript, the crew of the Coast Guard aircraft confirmed the instruction a few seconds later.
About two minutes later, the JAL flight collided with the Coast Guard aircraft on the runway, according to timestamps on airport surveillance video.
Saito told reporters on Wednesday that the incident was “still being investigated” and that the next step would be to listen to the audio recording of the conversation between the Coast Guard pilot and the flight control tower.
He said the transport ministry was taking all precautions to prevent such an accident from happening again, adding that the ministry had “asked airlines and air traffic control agencies to fully implement the basics of operations and procedures”.
At a briefing after Saito’s press conference, Japan Transportation Safety Board (JTSB) officials said they had recovered flight and voice recorders from the coast guard plane. However, he said they are still searching for the people who came on the JAL flight.
A JTBS official told reporters that the air traffic controller cleared the JAL aircraft to land on Runway C and asked the coast guard aircraft to “remain on point”.
The release of the transcript came as Japan Airlines said in a statement late Tuesday that its crew had been cleared to land by air traffic control before the collision.
Audio from LiveATC.net details the crew reading the clearance order for Runway 34, which reads, “Cleared for landing on right side 34.”
Japan Airlines pledged its full cooperation in the investigation to determine responsibility for the fatal crash.
Passengers aboard the Japan Airlines plane, an Airbus A350, as well as witnesses to the collision, described terror, followed by relief when it was learned that everyone on board had survived.
Interestingly, Japan Airlines said only one person aboard its plane suffered injuries, but 13 people “requested medical consultation due to physical discomfort.”
According to Graham Braithwaite, professor of safety and accident research at Cranfield University in the United Kingdom, runway incursions, as these types of incidents are classified, “are rare but can be catastrophic”.
According to a notice given to pilots, the warning lights that prevent planes from entering the runway were not working at the time of the fatal collision.
Warning lights designed to prevent pilots from accidentally entering the runway where Tuesday’s deadly collision occurred at Haneda Airport had been out of service for several days, public records show.
Faulty equipment – known as a runway stop bar light – could be another factor in the investigation of Tuesday’s collision that killed five people aboard a Japan Coast Guard plane. All 379 passengers on board a Japan Airlines plane crash survived.
A bulletin to pilots indicates that stop bar lighting is “out of service” on taxiways C1 to C14, including the taxiway where Haneda Tower controllers signaled the Coast Guard flight – tail number JA722A – which was tech- Off was waiting for authorization. The notice – or NOTAM – was first published on December 25, 2023 and is still active.
According to a transcript released by Japanese aviation authorities, the tower said, “JA722A, Tokyo Tower, good afternoon. Number one, taxi to holding point C5.”
The Coast Guard responded, confirming the tower’s instructions, “Taxi to holding point C5, JA722A number one, thank you.”
According to time stamps on airport surveillance video, Japan Airlines Flight 516, an Airbus A350, collided with the Coast Guard aircraft two minutes and nine seconds after the Coast Guard confirmed the tower’s direction.
Runway stop bar lighting consists of fixed red lights installed in the pavement along the taxiway that intersects the runway. US Federal Aviation Administration documents state, “Upon receiving clearance from air traffic control to proceed, the stop bar is turned off,” and state that “Pilots should never ignore a red-light stop bar. “Must not cross.”, even if air traffic control clearance has been given to proceed onto or across the runway.”
CNN’s Helen Regan and Lauren Koenig contributed to this story.