Japan begins probing cause of JAL jet collision at Tokyo airport

Japan's transport authorities on Wednesday began investigating the cause of a collision that occurred at Tokyo's Haneda airport between a Japan Airlines Co. plane and a Japan Coast Guard aircraft the previous day.

The Japan Transport Safety Board, the government affiliated agency in charge of probing serious accidents involving airplanes, trains and ships, is examining the aircraft wreckage.

The accident forced the closure of all four runways at Japan's busiest airport, but all except the one on which the collision occurred were reopened later Tuesday after the cancellation of many flights.

JAL canceled more than 40 domestic flights to and from Haneda airport on Wednesday. All Nippon Airways Co. also canceled over domestic 50 flights, with some international flights affected.

All 379 passengers and crew aboard the JAL Airbus A350 escaped without life-threatening injuries after it caught fire following the collision with the coast guard aircraft based at Haneda airport, the company said.

Five of the six coast guard members aboard were confirmed dead, but the aircraft's captain managed to escape, police said. The fire on the JAL plane was brought under control more than eight hours after the collision around 5:49 p.m.

Airbus SAS said in a statement Tuesday that it will dispatch a team of specialists "to provide technical assistance" to Japan's safety board, expressing sadness over the deaths of the five crew members.

The severely damaged JAL plane, equipped with engines produced by Britain's Rolls-Royce plc, was received in November 2021, Airbus said.

Japan's coast guard said its aircraft was heading to Niigata Prefecture to deliver relief supplies for people hit by the magnitude-7.6 earthquake that struck the Noto Peninsula and surrounding areas on the Sea of Japan coast on Monday.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, meanwhile, said it has launched an investigation into the accident on suspicion of professional negligence resulting in death and injury.

© Kyodo News