Flight Full of Passengers Collides with a Coast Guard Plane in Japan. What Do We Know?

All passengers onboard the Airbus A-350 escaped with their lives, but coast guard crew was not so lucky.

Updated Wednesday January 3, 2024 with additional information.

Video on the news shows the aircraft bursting into flames just aft of the wings while moving at high speed on the ground. From flyertalk.com.

Video on the news shows the aircraft fully aflame on the ground. The nose landing gear appears to have collapsed. From flyertalk.com.

A Japanese Airline passenger aircraft (Flight JAL-516) collided upon landing
with a Japan Coast Guard plane that was on the ground. The JAL flight was given
clearance to land by air traffic control, Japanese authorities said on
Wednesday. The Coast Guard plane was not cleared for take-off, based on control
tower transcripts. Transcripts of traffic control instructions released by
authorities appeared to show the Coast Guard plane had been told to taxi to a
holding point near the runway, according to Reuters. Both pilots had repeated the instructions but
it appears very likely there was a “runway incursion,” as unauthorized entries into runways are called.  

Where did this happen?

The accident happened at Haneda Airport (HND), also known as Tokyo International Airport — Tokyo’s  busiest airport. Narita Airport (NRT) is further outside Tokyo and is often used for international flights, especially those bound for North America and Europe.


Tuesday, January 2, 2024. JAL-516 was scheduled to arrive at 17:35.  The first transmission from the cockpit of the passenger aircraft that mentions a fire was at 17:36.

Were there casualties?

The pilot of the Coast Guard plane escaped but was seriously injured. Five members on the coast guard plane perished. All 379 passengers and crew were evacuated from the passenger aircraft but 17 suffered injuries.

What kind of aircraft were involved?

An Airbus A350-900 like the one in that burned in Haneda. Image: JAL

An Airbus A350-900 like the one in that burned in Haneda Airport, Japan. Image: JAL

The passenger plane was an Airbus A350-900. A fuel capacity of 166,488 liters give it a maximum range of 9,700 nautical miles but on Flight 516, it was being used as a short haul carrier. 

Japanese Airlines configures the Airbus A350-900 for 369 passengers with 12 in first class, 94 in business and 263 in economy, according to SeatGuru.com.

Dash 8 operated by Japan Coast Coast Gurard

Dash 8 operated by Japan Coast Coast Guard like the one at Haneda. Image: Planespotters.net.

The Coast Guard plane was a propellor-powered DHC-8, commonly called a Dash 8, made by Bombardier, was previously known as the de Havilland Canada Dash 8. It is a much smaller aircraft and has a maximum fuel capacity of 3,160 liters. 

Where was the Coast Guard plane heading?

The Coast Guard plane, which was carrying relief supplies, was heading to the scene of a major earthquake that took place Monday.

Where was the passenger plane coming from?

The Airbus A350 was arriving from Shin Chitose Airport (CTS) near Sapporo. The flight distance between CTS and HND is 509 miles (820 kilometers).  It’s normally a 1 hour 22 minute flight, according to flightradar24.com. 

How much fuel would the Airbus have had?

Although the Airbus A-350 is designed as a long-haul carrier, this flight from Sapporo to Tokyo was a short, domestic flight. The Airbus aircraft probably took off with a light fuel load and was landing with close to reserve fuel, a common practice as extra weight is extra cost for airlines. However, the Dash 8, ready to take off may have had a full load of fuel. The fireball that erupts after impact (seen on the video) is stationery , consistent with an aircraft that made an incursion into the runway but had stopped or was taxiing slowly. The A350’s seems to ignite upon impact, continuing down the runway on fire, but its flame is smaller until it is fully engulfed in flame 18 minutes later.

Had the situation been reversed, a fully fueled large passenger jet ready to take off hit by another plane landing, the situation would have been far worse.