Japan has seen its second collision between two passenger aircraft in a fortnight.
The crash occurred at around 5:30 pm local time on a runway at New Chitose Airport in Hokkaido and involved a Korean Air plane carrying a reported 289 passengers and crew and an empty Cathay Pacific plane, which had been at a standstill on the tarmac. Incredibly, no injuries have been reported.
Initial reports indicate the Korean Air jet’s left wing came into contact with the stationary plane’s right tail wing. Against a backdrop of a snow-blanketed airport at Hokkaido, pictures show a huge section torn from the side of the Cathay Pacific under the wing.
It appears a tow car, which had been helping the Korean Air craft prepare for take-off, slipped in the icy conditions.
Prior to the incident, the airport had already announced delays and 46 cancellations due to the weather conditions. Passengers had been advised to double check schedules with airlines ahead of their flights. The crash is likely to cause a knock-on effect of further delays.
Cathay Pacific has promised that most passengers due to travel on its flight CX583 from Sapporo to Hong Kong would still be able to undertake their journey after being transferred onto another service. “The majority of our customers will be protected onto another Cathay Pacific service today, with the remainder travelling with us tomorrow. We extend our apologies to the affected customers,” said an airline spokesperson.
Two crashes in a month
The collision is bound to cause an uptick in aviation concerns in Japan, coming as it does just two weeks after a fatal collision between a coastguard plane whose five passengers died and a Japan Airlines Airbus-A350 at Tokyo’s Haneda airport at around 5.45 pm local time. The victims aboard the coastguard plane had been carrying aid to Niigata Airport, on the country’s west coast, following a severe 7.6 magnitude earthquake on 1 January, killing at least 48 people and triggering a tsunami warning.
The Japan Airlines craft meanwhile was carrying 379 people, including eight children – all of whom escaped despite a huge fire engulfing the plane. Images and footage went viral around the world, prompting widespread astonishment at the scale of the destruction and the seemingly miraculous survival of the Airbus flyers.
Some experts have credited new composite materials with delaying the spread of flames and allowing crew time to safely evacuate all the passengers in their care.