The communication transcript between air traffic control and the two aircraft involved in the fiery collision at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport suggests that exclusive permission to use the runway was granted only to the larger Japan Airlines (JAL) flight. Initially, it was believed that 12 Australians were among the 379 passengers and crew on the JAL A-350 Airbus, but this number was later revised down to eight, as stated by federal minister Mark Butler.
Despite all passengers and crew escaping the burning JAL aircraft unharmed, the smaller plane involved in the collision resulted in the tragic loss of five lives.
The released transcript by Japan’s Transport Ministry covers approximately 4 minutes and 25 seconds leading up to the crash. It reveals a lack of explicit take-off approval for the Coast Guard plane, which was destroyed in the collision.
According to the transcript, Tokyo air traffic control specifically cleared the JAL plane for landing: “JAL516 RUNWAY 34 cleared to land.” The Japan Airlines pilot acknowledges, repeating, “Cleared to land RUNWAY 34R.”
In contrast, the Coast Guard plane (JA722A) is instructed to taxi to holding point C5. It promptly acknowledges the instructions within 20 seconds: “Taxi to holding point C5 …Thank you.” Following this acknowledgment, communication ceases.
Approximately two minutes later, there is a three-second pause in the transcript, indicating the moment of the collision.