News Safety

Japan Airlines miraculously evacuated all 379 passengers after collision in Tokyo

January 2, 2024 – A runway collision occurred between an Airbus A350, operating Japan Airlines Flight 516 (JAL516), and a De Havilland Canada Dash 8 operated by the Japan Coast Guard at Tokyo’s Haneda airport causing 5 fatalities in Coastal Guard aircraft and miraculously 379 passengers surviving the collision. 

While JAL516 was landing at Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Japan, it collided with the Coast Guard plane on the runway and both aircraft caught fire. Five of the six crew on board the Dash 8 died in the collision, but all 367 passengers and 12 crew on the A350 survived.

In such tragedy, the cabin crew of JAL516 acted in a professional manner and evacuated all 376 passengers with nobody carrying luggage which proved pivotal in safe evacuations of all passengers.

BBC infographic of collision location

JAL516 was a scheduled passenger flight from New Chitose Airport near Sapporo, Japan, to Haneda Airport in Tokyo, and the Coast Guard plane was on a relief mission in response to the Sea of Japan earthquake which occurred the day before. The collision ignited fires that destroyed both aircraft. It was Japan Airlines’ first major accident and hull loss since Flight 123 in 1985,  and also the first hull loss of an Airbus A350, an aircraft with carbon-fiber-reinforced polymers.


A coastguard aircraft involved in a fatal collision at Tokyo’s Haneda airport was not cleared for take-off, Japanese authorities have said. Newly released transcripts of air traffic control instructions just before the crash confirmed the JAL Airbus A350 was cleared to land. Permission for take-off was not given to the coastguard Bombardier Dash-8.

According to officials, the JAL flight was cleared to land on runway 34R at Haneda while the coastguard aircraft was told to “taxi to holding point C5” – a place on the airfield’s taxiway system where aircraft await permission to enter the active runway for take-off.

The transcript shows the coastguard aircraft acknowledged the call from air traffic to taxi to the holding point – its last transmission before the collision.

The transcripts appear to contradict the coastguard plane’s captain – the only one of the six crew to survive – who told investigators he had been given permission to enter the runway which the JAL airliner was approaching.

The BBC has also found information that suggests the series of lights at the relevant holding point may not have been working. But experts point out there are other visual cues like painted markings which would show where aircraft needed to stop short of the runway.

C5 hold point on Haneda RWY 34R circled in red
17:43:02 JAL516 Tokyo Tower (control), JAL516 spot 18
Tokyo Tower JAL516, Tokyo Tower Good evening. Continue the approach to Runway 34R (Runway C). Wind 320 degrees 7 knots. There is a departure plane
17:43:12 JAL516 JAL516 Continues approach to Runway 34R
17:43:26 DAL276 Tokyo Tower, DAL276 Taxiway C. heading towards stopping position
Tokyo Tower DAL276, Tokyo Tower Good evening. Please proceed to runway stop position C1.
DAL276 Runway stop position C1 DAL276
17:44:56 Tokyo Tower JAL516 Runway 34R No problem landing. Wind 310 degrees 8 knots
17:45:01 JAL516 Runway 34R No landing problems JAL516
17:45:11 JA722A The tower is on the JA722A C taxiway.
Tokyo Tower JA722A, Tokyo Tower Good evening. 1st. Please taxi to the runway stop position on C5.
17:45:19 JA722A Head to runway stop position C5. 1st. thank you
17:45:40 JAL179 Tokyo Tower, JAL179 Running to runway stop position C1
Tokyo Tower JAL179, Tokyo Tower 3rd. Please proceed to runway stop position C1.
JAL179 Run to runway stop position C1, ready for takeoff
17:45:56 JAL166 Tokyo Tower, JAL166 spot 21
Tokyo Tower JAL166, Tokyo Tower Good evening. 2nd, continue on approach to Runway 34R. Wind 320 degrees 8 knots. There is a departure plane. Please reduce speed to 160 knots
17:46:06 JAL166 Reduced speed to 160 knots and continued approach to runway 34R. Good evening
17:47:23 Tokyo Tower JAL166, please reduce speed to minimum approach speed
JAL166 JAL166
17:47:27 3 seconds of silence

The weather in Tokyo
The reported weather conditions were unremarkable at the time of the accident, with over 10 kilometers of visibility reported and 9,000 feet cloud ceiling. The accident occurred during the hours of darkness.

Below is the METAR (airport weather report) at the time JL516 made its approach to HND.

RJTT 020830Z VRB03KT 9999 FEW020 SCT090 08/04 Q1016 BECMG TL0900 30006KT RMK 1CU020 4AC090 A3002




About the author

Inxelo Technologies

Inxelo Technologies Ltd. is a company that core-business is software development in aviation industry.
Our mission is to provide quality software solutions to any air operator and improve their operations.
The software solutions we create for our customers are in various fields in aviation such as safety management system and compliance management system.