Why did Japan Jet Crash’s Evacuation from Burning Aircraft Succeed?

Following directions from the flight crew, passengers hurried to the emergency exits of a Japan Airlines aircraft that was on fire, leaving their hand bags behind.

Aviation experts suggest that leaving their belongings behind played a “major factor” in the quick evacuation of all 379 passengers just before the plane caught fire on the Haneda Airport runway in Tokyo last Tuesday.

As Japan Airlines Flight 516 touched down, it collided with a coastguard jet and burst into flames. On the smaller aircraft, five out of the six passengers perished.

The globe has been stunned and many have praised the immaculate evacuation on the Japan Airlines aircraft. It was down to the flight crew implementing their strict training and “well-behaved” passengers following safety procedures, aviation experts and flight crew tell the BBC.

“In every video I’ve watched, I don’t see a single person on the ground with their bags… Prof. Ed Galea, director of the Fire Safety Engineering Group at the University of Greenwich, stated that it would be extremely dangerous if individuals attempted to take their cabin bags because it would slow down the evacuation process.

According to Prof. Galea, the evacuation was challenging due to the condition of the aircraft, an Airbus A350.

“This was not an ideal accident. Passengers found it challenging to move because the aeroplane was nose down, he said.

Due to the way the jet landed, only three inflatable slides were available for passenger evacuation, and they were not adequately deployed. Because of how steep the slope was, it might have been hazardous.

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During the evacuation, the flight crew had to shout orders over a loudhailer due to a malfunctioning announcement system aboard the aircraft, according to Japan Airlines.

According to the airline, 13 passengers sought medical attention after experiencing physical pain, while one passenger received bruises.

The Japan Airlines aircraft took off at 16:00 local time (07:00 GMT) from the New Chitose airport in Sapporo, and it arrived at Haneda just before 18:00. It was scheduled for the smaller coast guard aircraft to provide relief to those affected by a strong earthquake on New Year’s Day. A collision investigation is currently underway.

Safety instruction began.
“Incredibly fortunate” was how one former Japan Airlines flight attendant described the passengers on the commercial flight to the BBC.

“Learning that every passenger was safe gave me a sense of relief. However, I became anxious and afraid as soon as I thought of the emergency evacuation protocol,” the woman remarked. “Depending on how the two planes collided and how the fire spread, it could have been a lot worse.”

According to the former flight attendant, who spoke under condition of anonymity, it could be challenging to guarantee that passengers do not panic in real-life scenarios.

“However, it’s difficult to imagine what they accomplished. The fact that everyone was able to leave is due to the passengers’ and crew’s excellent coordination and obedience to directions,” the spokesperson stated.

Before being permitted to work on commercial flights, new crew members must complete intensive evacuation and rescue training that can last up to three weeks, according to her. Every year, the course is conducted again.

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We practise with various scenarios, such having to make a water landing or dealing with a fire on board, in addition to a written exam and case study talks. Such training is also provided to maintenance personnel, according to the ex-flight attendant who departed the business five years prior.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a pilot with a South East Asian airline claimed that the aircraft crew’s thorough training contributed to the quick evacuation.

It was quite great, I must say. In my opinion, the training took effect in this instance. In a scenario like this, you really don’t have time to ponder; you simply go with your instincts,” he remarked.

Manufacturers of passenger aircraft must demonstrate that every passenger may exit the aircraft in less than ninety seconds in order for the aircraft to receive international certification. Actual passengers are occasionally used in evacuation tests, he continued.

The pilot went on to say that following previous incidents, aviation safety laws had been greatly reinforced.

For example, a study of radio communications and cockpit protocols followed the 1977 crash of two Boeing 747 aircraft at Los Rodeos Airport in Spain, which killed 583 people and is still the deadliest accident in aviation history. It was discovered that a misunderstanding between the flight crew and the air traffic controllers caused the tragedy.

In August 1985, Japan Airlines suffered its own disaster when Flight 123, headed for Osaka, collided with a mountain soon after it took off from Tokyo Haneda. Later, Boeing, the company that makes the aeroplane, was blamed for the mistakes made during repairs. Out of the 524 passengers, only four originally made it out of the crash; however, one of them eventually died from injuries.

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To raise staff knowledge of safety, Japan Airlines established a museum-style facility at Haneda in 2006 that showcased wreckage from the incident.

“In face of the pain and grief of the bereaved families and public distrust in airline safety [after the 1985 crash], we pledged that we would never again allow such a tragic accident to occur,” Japan Airlines stated on its website.

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