Most people see the new year as a chance for a fresh start, both personally and professionally. Unfortunately for the country of Japan, the new year hasn’t been going anything like what they assumed or hoped.
Read on to learn more breaking news about the situation currently affecting the country of Japan.
On New Year’s Day, Japan started the new year off with a rumble, an earthquake to be exact. While Japan is a country that frequently experiences earthquakes, this one was much larger than normal.
On the evening of January 1, 2024, while most of the world was just waking up to a new year, Japan was rocked by a 7.5-magnitude earthquake. An earthquake this size is deadly, and as of January 3rd, at least 64 people in Japan lost their lives to the quake.
More serious than that is what comes after an earthquake. Many people in Japan found themselves without homes as buildings collapsed in the quake. Public transport was disrupted, leaving many stranded, and over 45,000 people were left without power. Additionally, as an island nation, there were Tsunami warnings up and down the coast, as well as several aftershocks, which scared the already terrified residents.
While Japan has since corrected many of these issues, and nothing serious has come of the Tsunami warning, tragedy wasn’t done with Japan yet, and it struck again on January 2nd.
Japan Plane Crash
On January 2nd, 2024, a Japan Airlines jetliner landed on the runway in Tokyo Haneda Airport when it collided with a smaller aircraft. Both airplanes immediately burst into flame.
The larger aircraft operated by Japan Airlines, an Airbus 350, began an evacuation as soon as they came to a standstill, and all 379 passengers and crew made it off alive. Unfortunately for the smaller aircraft, which was a Dash 8 operated by the Japanese Coast Guard, none of the passengers survived, all 5 being killed on impact. The pilot did survive. However, he is injured.
What makes this situation even more dire is the fact that the Coast Guard plane was carrying much-needed supplies for those who were victims of the earthquake the day before, all of which were lost along with the lives of the 5 Coast Guard members on board.
How Did The Japan Plane Crash Happen?
In the aviation industry, there are many safeguards in place to ensure incidents like runway collisions don’t occur. So, what happened on this day in January? Well, there are a few theories, which we will delve into below, but an official announcement hasn’t been made yet.
Possible Cause #1: Air Traffic Control Error
Planes on the ground at large airports can’t move onto taxiways or runways without the clearance of ATC. There’s a chance that the individual giving clearance made a mistake, causing both planes to be cleared to use the same runway at the same time.
Possible Cause #2: Pilot Error
The pilot of the coast guard plane was likely one who was part of the military and likely didn’t operate out of Tokyo Haneda Airport frequently. As a result, he may have been taxiing toward the wrong runway in error.
Like many large airports, Tokyo Haneda has two runways that run parallel to one another. One is usually used for landing traffic, and the other for departing traffic to keep operations running smoothly.
It is possible that the pilot of the Dash 8 taxied to the wrong parallel runway by mistake, and when he was cleared for takeoff, the tower thought they were clearing him for the other runway, not the one Japan Airlines was currently operating on.
Possible Cause #3: Human Factors
Flying an airplane requires a lot of skill, memory, and paying attention. While most pilots use autopilot in the air, this isn’t an option on the ground. As a result, mistakes can happen when a pilot is tired or not feeling 100%.
In this case, the Japan Airlines A350 was likely cleared to land (as large planes have the right of way in aviation), and maybe the pilot of the Dash-8 was cleared to hold short of the runway or cleared to take off following the landing of the A350. Either way, the pilot made a mistake, pulling onto the runway too early, causing the collision.
This distraction or mistake may have been a result of the human condition and the fact that, as humans, we don’t operate as well on low sleep or when we are stressed or worried about something. It is possible that the pilot was stressed about a friend or family member who was affected by the earthquake, or maybe he was tired from flying too many hours that day or not sleeping well the night before.
Either way, the pilot will likely be found at fault unless his lack of sleep was a direct result of a company order, but even then, he should have refused the assignment if he wasn’t in the mindset to operate.
Human factors have a serious effect on flying, and this is not the first time that an Asian airline has struggled with pilots not turning down assignments they aren’t safe to operate. In 2013, Asiana Flight 214 stalled and crashed in San Francisco due to a pilot error.
In the aftermath of the crash, it was found that the captain was making errors which the first officer disagreed with. But because of the common Asian cultural beliefs that he shouldn’t question his supervisor, the first officer didn’t say anything, and the plane crashed. Ever since this incident, Asian airlines have tried to hire Western pilots, who are usually better at voicing concerns with their higher-ups, to help prevent this type of issue from occurring again.
Overall, there is no information just yet on what caused the Japan Airlines flight, and this is all just speculation, but we assume that the investigation into the crash will conclude that it is some sort of human error on behalf of the pilot or ATC. In the meantime, hopefully, Japan won’t suffer any more disasters, and the families of those who perished will find peace. This is a developing story, and updates can be found on major news outlets like CNN.
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