Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Peach Airbus A320 narrowly avoids crash at Okinawa.

On April 28th, Peach Aviation's (MM/APJ) flight MM252, service from Ishigaki (ISG/ROIG) to Okinawa/Naha (OKA/ROAH), made a narrow escape as it descended too early and came within just 75 meters (248 feet) above sea level while coming in to land at the Okinawan capital.

Flying with 53 passengers, four flight attendants, and two cockpit crew (Argentine Captain and Japanese First Officer), Airbus A320-214 JA802P was approaching Naha when the pilot believed air traffic control (ATC) was telling him to land already when they were still in fact seven kilomteres north of the airport, putting the aircraft into a premature dive. Visibility was poor with rain and thick low clouds, and what could have been a serious accident was averted by the aircraft's ground proximity warning system, which prompted the crew to make a sharp climb. It made another approach and landed safely at Naha at 1210, local time, 30 minutes later than schedule, without any injuries.

Subsequent inspections revealed no abnormalities with the Airbus narrowbody. As a result, MM107/108, a round-trip from Kansai to Sapporo/New Chitose (CTS/RJCC), and MM111/112, a round-trip from Kansai to Tokyo/Narita (NRT/RJAA), were canceled.

Japan Transport Safety Board (JTSB) labelled this a 'serious incident', adding that the aircraft was in a "dangerous situation as it could have crashed into the sea." The accident-investigating arm of Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) sent three officials to Peach's headquarters at Osaka/Kansai (KIX/RJBB) to look into the matter. The Captain claims that he mistakenly believed that ATC had directed the airplane to decrease its altitude.

Source: Peach Aviation, April 29th. (PDF; in Japanese)
Source: Nikkei Shimbun, April 29th. (in Japanese)

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