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Aircraft was told to go to a holding point two minutes before a Japan Airlines jet collided with it. All 379 people on board a Japan Airlines jet that burst into flames after a collision at a Tokyo airport managed to escape relatively unscathed. Experts explain how air safety advances and the plane’s design helped to ensure their survival.

Japanese authorities investigating a fiery collision at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport are zeroing in on why a coast guard plane was present on the same runway where a Japan Airlines jet had permission to land.

Just moments before Tuesday’s collision, the coast guard plane inched forward onto the runway, but regulators said they haven’t found any record of it being cleared to do so. Its movements placed it in the path of the descending Japan Airlines Flight 516.

The two planes collided on the runway, and the smaller coast guard aircraft exploded, killing five of the six personnel aboard. The Japan Airlines Airbus A350 caught fire and its 379 passengers and crew escaped with just minutes to spare.

A transcript of control-tower communications released by Japanese regulators shows the Japan Coast Guard plane, a De Havilland Canada Dash 8 turboprop, was instructed at 5:45 p.m. to taxi to a holding point called C5 right next to the runway.

Excerpt from WSJ
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