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Citing safety concerns, IATA requests MLIT to change Haneda’s new landing path

  • March 4, 2020
  • , Tokyo Shimbun , Lead story
  • JMH Translation

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has requested the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) to reconsider the new, steeper landing approach to Haneda Airport, sources have revealed. The new landing path is scheduled to go into use on Mar. 29. Composed of approximately 290 member airlines, IATA pointed out the dangers posed by the new landing path, saying, “The new route will require special landing techniques not used at other world airports.”


IATA’s Asia-Pacific Regional Director of Safety and Flight Operations Blair Cowles, along with pilots of member carrier Delta Air Lines, met with MLIT officials at the ministry’s Kasumigaseki headquarters in Tokyo in January. The visitors told the government officials that they “have strong reservations” about the new route with its 3.45-degree approach which is to be used in clear weather conditions.


The MLIT officials stressed that they have chosen a steeper angle than the usual 3.0 in an attempt to reduce noise levels over the Tokyo metropolitan area by putting the path at a high altitude.


IATA requested the ministry to reduce the approach angle and pointed out, “No pilot flies at that angle.” They added that during the time period from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., during which the new route is supposed to be used, many foreign pilots unfamiliar with Haneda will be landing aircraft. They stressed that the extra burden of a difficult landing path on pilots who have just flown a long distance will be a new risk factor unique to Haneda.


Moreover, IATA said the noise reduction effect made possible with the steeper angle is “negligible.”       


Yasufumi Watanabe of the MLIT Civil Aviation Bureau’s Air Traffic Control Division told the Tokyo Shimbun: “We do not take IATA’s comments as requests. We have already determined that the 3.45-degree approach is safe, and we need to take every measure possible to reduce noise.”


On Mar. 2, the MLIT invited all airlines that use Haneda to a briefing on landing techniques. Admitting there may be cases where the aircraft becomes unstable during landing due to the steep angle, the ministry asked that pilots repeat the approach if this happen and that airlines load extra fuel for that purpose. (Abridged)    

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