Transcripts Indicate JAL Pilot Ignored Air Control
Aug. 26, 1985
TOKYO (AP) _ The pilot of Japan Air Lines Flight 123 ignored air traffic control four times and failed to clearly identify himself once as he struggled to control the jetliner before it crashed, according to transcripts of cabin voice tapes released Sunday.
The pilot did not respond to instructions to change radio frequencies and identify the reason for the emergency, presumably because he was concerned with controlling the wildly swerving Boeing 747. The plane crashed into a remote mountainside Aug. 12, killing all 520 people in aviation's worst single-plane disaster.
The transcript do not indicate what ripped apart the jetliner's tail fin, ''but it gives more accurate times down to the second'' of the 32-minute struggle to bring the flight safely to earth, said an official of the Civil Aviation Bureau's Airworthiness Division.
The bureau is part of the Transport Ministry, which released the transcripts. Ministry officials have said they will release on Monday preliminary results of the investigation into the crash's cause.
Some investigators believe the rear bulkhead ruptured and released a jet of pressurized air that destroyed the tail fin. But they have not ruled out the possibility that an outside object slammed into the vertical stabilizer.
At 6:18.38 p.m. the pilot gave ground control a routine report of the jet's position, but 6 minutes and 42 seconds later he radioed: ''Ah, Tokyo, Japan Air 123 request from immediate, ... trouble, request return back to Haneda, descend maintain 220, over.''
In a transcript released earlier of conversations within the cabin, the pilot says: ''What's this?'' at roughly the same time, and adds, ''hydro all out'' in a reference to the failure of the hydraulic systems that control the aircraft.
At 6:27.10, air controllers asked JAL 123: ''And request your nature of emergency,'' and there was no response. The pilot's next words, ''But now uncontrol,'' came at 6:28.35,.
The pilot did not respond to three more questions from air traffic controllers and sounded flustered at 6:42.00, saying ''uncontrolla,'' not completing the word.
He exclaimed ''Uhhhh,'' in apparent shock at 6:47.18 and at 6:53.31, said ''Ah uncontrol, Japan Air 12 (pause) uncontrol.''
The pilot's last transmission came at 6:54:55, when he said, ''Roger, Go Ahead,'' after learning of the plane's distance from Haneda Airport where he wished to return.
At 6:56:59, the cabin tape recorded the pilot saying, ''Raise the nose'' repeatedly, seconds before the jetliner crashed 70 miles west of Tokyo.
In the continuing search of the wreckage, teams on Saturday recovered what appeared to be a small body slightly north of the crash site, which X-rays later confirmed to be a 5 to 6-month-old fetus, a Gunma Prefectural (state) police spokesman said Sunday.
Japanese news reports said the 12-inch fetus was believed to have either miscarried upon the impact of the crash or fallen out of the mother's injured body.
A total of 492 bodies have been recovered, and the identities of 481 confirmed.
Also, a problem in a rear cabin door on a Japan Air Lines 747 scheduled to fly from Sydney, Australia, to Tokyo caused the removal of 75 passengers Aug. 18, six days after the crash, JAL spokesman Geoffrey Tudor said.
He said the door was slightly damaged when an airport worker operating service steps bumped into it. An inspection of the door determined it did not present a safety hazard, and JAL decided to fix it in Japan.
But airline safety regulations restrict the number of passengers per door, and 75 of the 274 passengers had to deplane, he said.
Warning lights for the door came on en route to Anchorage and again to Dusseldorf, despite repairs in Narita and Anchorage, Tudor added. The door was repaired in Paris and no further problems were reported.
The incident was one of a series of mishaps minor involving commercial aircraft in Japan, including the blowout of half the 16 tires on a Northwest Orient 747 that landed at Narita Friday. A tire in the same plane again blew out at Narita on Sunday.