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Official Says Faulty Repairs Caused 1985 JAL Plane Crash

April 10, 1987

TOKYO (AP) _ A Transport Ministry official today blamed faulty repairs by the Boeing Co. in 1978 for the 1985 crash of a Japan Air Lines jumbo jet that killed 520 people.

A final report by the ministry’s Aircraft Accident Investigation Commission on the worst single-plane aviation accident in history has not been made public, and officials refuse fo divulge its contents.

But Japanese newspapers have said the probe concludes that repairs on the B-747 plane after a hard landing in 1978 resulted in the August 1985 disaster.

″If you read between the lines of the press reports, one can reach no other conclusion,″ said the ministry official, a member of the investigation commission who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Only four people survived when the jet slammed into a mountain ridge northwest of Tokyo on Aug. 12, 1985. It lost much of its vertical tail fin and all hydraulic controls on the flight from Tokyo to Osaka.

The draft report was was sent to the U.S. National Transportion Safety Board last month for comment. It is expected to be released in June, the Transport Ministry official said.

Japanese newspapers said the commission’s final report concludes that faulty repairs to the plane’s rear pressure bulkhead caused metal fatigue and cracks in the bulkhead, which separates the pressurized cabin area from the non-pressurized tail section.

Boeing, based in Seattle, made the repairs after the jet scraped its tail on a runway while landing at Osaka airport in 1978.

Boeing has acknowledged that it improperly riveted portions of the bulkhead after the Osaka accident. Japan Air Lines technicians never discovered the weakness in numerous later inspections, according to previously published commission reports.

In another development today, police said a 50-member police special investigation team was examining details of the accident before starting a probe to determine criminal responsibility for the crash.

Update hourly