A JAL (Japan Airlines) Airbus A350 burst into flames after landing, following what appears to be an impact with a Coast Guard aircraft.
THIS IS A DEVELOPING STORY, see updates at the end. It involves Japan Airlines flight JL516, a daily afternoon domestic flight, departing from Sapporo New Chitose Airport (RJCC) in Japan. Its destination is Tokyo Haneda International Airport (RJTT).
On the day of this accident, there were 367 passengers and 12 crew on board the JAL Airbus A350. The aircraft departed from Sapporo with a small delay (35 minutes) using runway 19R. But the 1h-20min flight seems to have otherwise been routine, until its arrival in Tokyo.
The JAL crew flying the Airbus A350 landed on runway 34R. Cameras show that the initial rollout of the aircraft was uneventful. But then the aircraft erupts in a ball of fire. There are reports that the Airbus hit a smaller aircraft, that belongs to the Japanese Coast Guard.
JAL Airbus A350, Coast Guard Dash-8-300
According to local media, everyone on board the JAL flight was able to evacuate safely before the Airbus A350 was completely destroyed. As of this writing, firefighting crews at the airport continue to fight the flames.
Unfortunately, there are few reports at this time on the fate of the six people on board the Coast Guard aircraft. Some sources say that one person has been rescued. This was a Bombardier (now De Havilland) Dash-8-300, with registration JA722A.
This aircraft was reportedly transporting people and supplies to Niigata Air Base, to assist in relief efforts relating to yesterday’s Noto Peninsula earthquake.
As for the larger aircraft, this appears to be the first hull loss of an Airbus A350. It is a two-year-old A350-900, with registration JA13XJ. The A350 has a carbon fiber fuselage and wing, and any difficulties in fighting fires involving composites will be of interest to investigators worldwide, in addition to other factors in this accident.
We will update this article when more news is available.
More photos of the Airbus A350 taken before it was consumed by the fire, show impact damage on its nose (see below).
Tragically, news reports confirm that five out of six occupants in the Coast Guard aircraft did not survive the accident.
The sixth occupant is the aircraft’s Captain, who was able to evacuate the aircraft and is in serious condition. 14 passengers in the airliner required medical attention due to injuries. This number is revised down from 17.
Tokyo Haneda Airport closed after the accident, with flights diverting to Tokyo Narita Airport. France’s BEA is sending an investigating team to Japan.
ATC audio reportedly indicates that the crew of the JAL Airbus A350 had been cleared to land. Then approximately 20 seconds later, the tower told the Coast Guard crew to taxi to intersection C5 (see above, corrected from C2 previously). According to this audio, the controller did NOT clear that aircraft to enter the runway.