My colleagues at other media outlets have provided insightful content on a number of topics generated by the runway collision of this January 2 between Japan Airlines Flight 516 and a Japan Coast Guard aircraft. Opinion pieces and more factual “deep dives” have been published and posted on subjects including the survivability of the A350 airframe in the initial collision and follow-on fire – with most topics beyond the editorial purview of CAT. Of particular relevance in the aftermath of the Flight 516 accident, JAL has stated its intent to maintain its current rescue training strategy and programs as configured for aspiring cabin attendants.   

Heroic Actions

By any measure, the actions of JAL Flight 516’s cabin crew were heroic.

Maggie Kuwasaki, at Japan Airlines Media Relations headquarters in Tokyo, first noted that while the notional 350-900 has eight exits all together, in this instance, “five were not confirmed safe to open, so the remaining three exits were opened and used.” The three exits supported the evacuation of 367 passengers and 12 crew members. Evacuation directions were conveyed by megaphone or by voice due to degraded or inoperative internal communication systems. Numerous media outlets have observed and commented on the absence of hand luggage with evacuated passengers. Asked to comment on JAL’s time standard for evacuating this configured A350 model, the spokesperson responded, “we do not have a time standard, because passenger situations differ on every flight.” JAL confirmed the flight’s captain remained on board for about 18 minutes until all passengers and crew were evacuated and then evacuated himself.   

Cabin Crew Rescue Training Highlights

The airline’s cabin attendant training is conducted once a year, specifically the regular rescue training. Spokesperson Kuwasaki added, “It is conducted all day long (9am to 6pm). The items covered in emergency evacuation training include: written confirmation of knowledge regarding emergency measures, daily safety tasks, emergency equipment, and various equipment; case studies; door training for each type of equipment (both on land and at sea); comprehensive exercises: case studies of the entire process from the occurrence of an emergency to the evacuation, including joint training with operating crew members;” and of added significance,  “comprehensive training involves assuming an emergency situation based on past incidents and conducting 3-4 case studies of the entire process from the occurrence of an emergency to the evacuation.”

JAL does not plan any changes to cabin crew rescue training at this moment. The JAL media executive concluded, “We believe that the procedure was correctly followed.”

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