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Japan Airlines Accident Highlights Importance Of Flight Attendants And Passenger Discipline

Evacuating 379 people from a burning jet is no small feat. On a day when so much went wrong, this article celebrates what went right on Japan Airlines 516 today. ( More...

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Not only should credits go to all crew members, but also the 379 people on board.
btweston 2
I think that might be the entire point t of the article.
Alan Zelt 66
Throughout my many years of business and pleasure flying throughout the world, I have observed things that have stuck with me. In Japan, South Korea and China, all people listen and obey people in authority. It is ingrained. And when told to follow the emergency briefings, they do. As a result, they do not reach into the overhead bins. In America, even before the plane fully stops at the gate, they are up and reaching for their bags. And do they ever get into arguments with flight attendants.

From an early age, we either accept authority(within reason), or choose to ignore it. The choice can be catastrophic.
Frank DeLeon 44
I agree! I just returned from a two-week vacation in Japan and was so impressed with their cities and people's attitude. If the light is red, they don't go. If the electronic crossing sign says "don't walk," they don't walk. The cities are immaculate--no trash on the streets, and even though crowded (as in underground railway transportation), they are orderly and polite to one another. In America, our population has developed a "me first" mentality and a "my life is more important than yours" attitude. We used too not be like this.
John D 16
I agree with Frank and Alan. I spent the last few weeks in the EU. On their streets, airplanes and railroads, I experienced something similar.
David Kreulen 6
I agree, Having flown in China and Japan planing and deplaning are so much more orderly than elsewhere. In Japan I flew an inter-island 747; the plane was loaded amazingly quickly and orderly. It seemed like a matter of minutes and everyone was seated, buckled and waiting patiently for departure. My first response to the outcome of this story/disaster was: "only in Japan."
Alan Joy -3
Australia has become worse in this regard since COVID, which I blame as the cause here.
Gene Joy 4
The world was affected by Covid. Why would one country be adversely changed because of it?
Billy Croan 1
Australia was the one that built concentration camps during covid. Other countries didn't go that far.
A point well made. Thank you.
Bryant Cordova 7
I agree with Alan, Frank and all the rest. However, in regards to people behaving badly at airports and on planes. The behavior of the in our country (US) has changed because the leadership of this country has changed. There is no respect coming from the White House, corruption. Is running rampant from our leaders and gives people the the false impression and falls excuses to behave in the same manner. Sadly, no one is held responsible anymore, everyone feels entitled.
btweston 2
Yeah it’s been downhill since the Nazis came out of the woodwork back in 2016.
Billy Croan 1
I'll gladly accept the infinitesimally small chance of burning alive in the world's average one or two survivable plane crashes per year, over the absolute concrete certainty of political slavery and tyranny that this ingrained obedience enables.

Yes. What beautiful obedient slaves the Japanese, Koreans, and Chinese have become. Pat them on their head. I'm sure they enjoy it. Unless you ask a Uyghur, or

I'm not leaving my shit behind in some overhead bin. I'll get it in my arms before we land to save time though to be generous. A suitcase in my lap might even act to brace me a bit better in a crash. Better than arching my back and slamming my head into the seat in front of me.
Credit goes to crew members as well as passengers themselves.
Discipline is really very important especially during emergency and critical situation. It is matured culture in Japan developed since years and far ahead of rest of the world.
Gary Oberst 29
Getting everyone off a burning 787 safely would be impossible in the US. If it isn't the entitled people grabbing luggage from the overhead bins, it would be taking selfies, or live streaming the disaster.
Philip Lanum 5
Asiana Airlines Flight 214 in San Francisco had issues with people carrying off luggage also.
Shawn Smith 14
After having worked as a flight attendant for a major US airline back in the 80s, I have become addicted to watching "Air Disasters". This show recreates air accidents from all over the world, then outlines the investigation into the causes afterwards. In the UK, back in the 80's, there was an accident where there was a fire on a plane and the pilots, not knowing where the fire was or that it was spreading, turned the plane as they landed it, causing the emergency exits on one side of the plane to be unusable due to the fire. Another exit would not open (door was jammed) so there ended up only being one exit the entire plane could evacuate from. People were pushing forward, climbing over seats, become disoriented due to the smoke and not listening to the emergency instructions of the flight attendants. This resulted in a number of deaths that were ultimately determined to have been preventable. So remember, when a flight attendant asks you, if you are sitting in the exit row, if you can open the door (which is very very heavy), be honest if you can or cannot. If you are told to stow away your belongings, listen and do it without arguing. Always take a few seconds to see where the exits are when you board a plane. Look at the floor and see where the light stripss are so if the cabin is filled with smoke, you know where the lights are and understand how they can lead you to an exit. It takes only a few seconds but it can save your life!
Gerard Kelly 5
Off topic, but I also worked for a major US airline in the 80's (one that doesn't exist any more thanks to a corporate raider) and I'm also addicted to "Air Disasters". Surely this recent JAL incident will be a future season episode as a "feel good" reminder that potential disasters can actually end well -- for the passengers and crew, at least, not for the aircraft ...
Anne Kent 12
Let' all remember to pay close attention to the attendants when they speak. Don't act like you know it all as so many passengers do. Maybe we need to watch a video of what to do before boarding the plane.
srobak 3
Because people won't be busy listening to music or yapping on speakerphone cranked to 11 before getting on a plane. Right.
That was a domestic Flight probably with mostly Japanese citizens on board.
If it was a US domestic flight with typically overweight people onboard the evacuation time would have been longer?
I have participated in aircraft evacuation certification drills and it only takes one —- person to slow down the process.
My apologies to all those + sized passengers in advance.
Shawn Smith 5
Overweight or not is not really going to matter when there are 350+ people pushing towards exits. An overweight person will still get out the door at the same speed as an underweight or physically fit person will, they will just get down the evacuation slide faster as a result of gravity. Also, evacuating the aircraft is not like what you see in the movies. The flights attendants don't send one person down the slide and then wait until they are off the slide to send the next person down. One person goes, then the next person is told to jump and go - barely a few seconds between people. So the weight of the person is really irrelevant.
Billy Croan 1
Ask a highschool physics teacher if weight affects the rate of something falling.... Unless you're literally free felling through open air where wind resistance is a factor, weight is irrelevant. Mobility is relevant though. Not just fat people. But seniors, pregnant women, kids, retards, and drunks all reduce the efficiency of an orderly evacuation. But I don't think you're going to push to ban them from planes any day soon.
Bab Bezat 1
Apology not accepted. Heavy does not mean not nimble...
srobak -1
JAL doesn't fly 350s domestically
Marty Martino 4
With respect, JAL 516 was a domestic flight from Sapporo to Haneda.
Bayouflier 14
Kudos to this crew for an amazing job. I'd be willing to bet that not a single person attempted to evacuate the jet with their carry-ons. A testament to reason and discipline, qualities that are nonexistent in the west.
Jeff Steiner 6
As per usual, Juan Browne does an excellent job of sharing and breaking down everything we know so far about this horrible accident that could have been MUCH MUCH worse:

Initial report (2-Jan):

Followup report (4-Jan):
Aaron Johnson 3
His channel is amazing.
Roy Miller 5
I flew from Johannesburg to Cairo with Egyptair, I was horrified to see passengers filling the aisle's with baggage and boxes on our decent into Cairo. Had there been an emergency I doubt if any of us would have been able to reach the emergency exits. The cabin crew did nothing to stop this and I can only assume it was normal on Egyptair.
Last time I flew Egyptair we were delayed by about 23 minutes because people would not sit down, and then when everyone did sit down, a family kept passing an infant between rows and across the aisle to decide who would have the baby sit on his/her lap. Flight attendants/pilot did/said nothing to stop this activity. So, I wondered if normal. But, my checked luggage was weighed twice to make sure it was under weight limit and my carry on was measured plus weighed to make sure it met requirements. I had adhered to their requirements - all luggage was ok. Guess crew decides what to focus on.
James Cross 6
And if there were a crash and those items prevented an evacuation, Egyptair would blame Boeing for making a plane that automatically fills the aisles with junk.
Marcus Giddens 13
Here's an idea that I am sure will not take off....have the OH bins locked just before the cabin doors are closed, unlocked at 10K FT or cruising altitude. Then repeat on landing, locked down until at the gate.
Philip Lanum 4
Who is going to bear the cost of doing this?

Not a simple thing to do and cost does not add to the safety of the aircraft. The cost to design, implement, and retrofit this is really not what should be done.
srobak 1
The passenger of course.
D. W. 13
In the United States (if not other so-called "western countries"), this (the orderly, safe, efficient evacuation of a burning airplane) would never have happened: Shirley and Mary Jo and Rocky and Harry would say/would have said:

"Nah! Those rules for leaving stuff behind are for other people, not for me. A few more seconds can't possibly make a difference, and I'm just not going anywhere without my ATM card, my Master Cards (several), my driver's license, and my laptop/iPad."

Burn, arrogant/selfish idiots.
2sheds 11
Totally agree, but what is worse, their arrogance kills others who are trying to do it right.
Josie Rojas 5
Sadly, so true!!!
Marty Martino 1
Gotta confess, I would be try to get my iPad under my shirt and off with me.
The conduct of the passengers was highly commendable. If that had happened here in the US, it would have been a shitshow.
Andrew Turnbull -9
The conduct of the Japanese passengers is part and parcel of Japan's behavior in the early 1940s. The (assumed) conduct of Americans in a similar situation would be part and parcel of why Japan's behavior in the early 1940s failed.

I'd rather be an individual American, with all that that implies, than an obsequious Japanese, with all that that implies.
Billy Croan 1
The German people are nice and obedient too. Wonder if they had anything in common with the Japanese....
Sally Jackson 4
On the domestic (US) flights I’ve been on mainly between PBI and EWR the safety announcements can barely be heard over people talking loudly to each other. Also the aggressive nature of some people wanting to get off the plane as fast as possible is annoying. And I’m talking about the first six rows of the plane. Not much respect for others.
sweeper239 4
certainly the fact that the red lights at the end of the taxiway were inop was factor
My speculation: English is not the captain's native language, so coupled with "anticipatory understanding" of ATC instructions, he interpreted the taxi-and-hold instruction as permission to take off, because he was on an important flight.
btweston 4
Imagine recognizing that you live in a society with other people.
Eric Broviak 6
I cannot imagine sitting there, doing nothing for almost 20 minutes while someone else decides if I live or die.
Billy Croan 1
and some folks here think it's "commendable" to be that subservient! What a world!
Ben Seidman 3
It's been reported that 18 minutes elapsed between the time of the collision until the last person was out of the A350. A lot of credit has been given to the resistance of the A350 to the fire. It has also been reported that the cockpit crew was unaware of the fire until so advised by the cabin crew. Eighteen minutes is a long time in an emergency. Of course, determining which exits are safe to open is critical, but how much time was lost before the evacuation order was given? Saudia flight 163 comes to mind.
Billy Croan 1
If a flight attendant stood between you and an exit to KEEP YOU INSIDE a burning plane for ten solid minutes, let alone 18. It's a god damn miracle the passengers did not tear the FA's limb from limb. I'd give them 2 minutes, tops, after everything is stopped moving, to decide which exits to use. That is VERY generous. Any longer than that and I'm going to make my own exit.
Jeraboam 2
In 2005, an Air France A340 landing in a storm at Toronto International airport crashed into a ravine at the end of the runway where it caught fire. Due to the amazing professionalism of the cabin crew and the responsible behaviour of the 297 passengers, there were no deaths and only 12 serious injuries. Most of the passengers and crew were Canadian and French nationals, so it seems that such responses in disastrous situations can be found in many countries and cultures. The exit time for all aboard was under 90 seconds despite having four exits unavailable and accomplished in storm conditions, a raging fire and in a deep gully. Fire crews were recorded as being at the site in 52 seconds.
Tim Dyck 1
It would have been faster if the Canadians wouldn’t have been arguing “You go first.” “I’m sorry but you go first.” “My apologies but I must insist you go first.” Again I am sorry but it is best if you go first.”…
At times small kids on a school bus are more disciplined and less disruptive than some passengers on an Aircraft.

The crash situations or emergency landing will vary and none are alike .
The Main mission for crew members is to ensure safe challenging conditions and come to a complete stop then a code or a signal to evacuate would be initiated.

However “ exits are not necessary usable or cleared “

Crew members are well trained and professional and prepared to evacuate passengers to safety when necessary.

Fear, Panic and confusion are expected.
When passengers are good listeners and respectful, the rest will follow.
This would make things easier and increase communication, coordination for an enjoyable fight experience.

Flight Attendants have families and a life too .
If one thinks that crew members don’t care or want to perish in an aircraft, one is much mistaken.

Please stop vilifying crew members and enjoy your flight.
In addition to the comments, below note this is a real world example of evacuation. Eighteen minutes, counting time to stop, confusion of the flight attendants, limited exits available. The idea of the 90 second standard is absurd.
Alan Hewat 9
The order to evacuate was only given 15 minutes after landing, after the captain was advised that there was a fire in the
rear, and after he evaluated what exits could be used. There was no fire in the cabin then. It then ook only another 3 minutes before the last crew member left, so the evacuation of passengers was quite rapid, within a couple of minutes. No, there is nothing absurd about this 90 second objective.
Lance Neward 6
As a former airline F/A supervisor, I really commend the great job that was done by the crew. There is a lot to be commended in the entire episode.

BTW, the 90-second time is set up for the qualifying evacuation, with only half the normal exits operating. In the case of the 747 qualifying evacuation, there was a full load of passengers of all demographics (old, young, families, etc.) and a standard (Pan Am) F/A crew, in a darkened hangar to simulate night. The participants knew why they were there, of course; what they didn't know was which doors would be inop. As it turned out, all the right hand doors were set to be inop. What they didn't know also was that they they would have an actual failure of the rearmost left-hand door, so now they only had 4 exits. That entire evacuation took 107 seconds. It was pretty impressive, and qualified the evacuation procedure.
On the other hand, a colleague of mine was on an outbound international 747 that evacuated at JFK, and, yes, lots of people thought that their duty-free booze was more important than expeditiously getting off the damn airplane. Fortunately, no fire nor loss of life.
The 90 second evacuation qualification process is required for all new OR reconfigured seat layouts with only 1/2 of the exits available.
At the airline I worked for the people who participated had to represent a normal passenger load. No track stars or Gymnast but they DO know that there is Going to be an evacuation and the results are important.
At one time even flashing lights and artificial smoke were used but that May no longer be the case.
They did tell all the female participants Not to wear mini skirts with panty hose as the friction from the Evacuation slides could cause burns.
I participated in a few of these drills and they were exciting to say the least.
Gary Cecil 2
We Americans, especially the younger generation, have no discipline or respect for authority. This attitude is passed on from generation to generation and it’s only getting worse. It affects everyone and everything in our country. God help us……..our government won’t.
btweston 1
Because the government is scary because we don’t bother to understand it so we undermine it every chance we get.
Ca Erdos 2
Years ago when I was flying European routes/cities, CDG(Paris) used the following phrase to clear a/c for takeoff: “cleared for takeoff—after landing Airbus”.
Fun times indeed—-
Gideon Yuval 2
Why did it take 18 minutes to get out??
srobak -2
Yep.... They claim 15 minute boarding times - so how can it take 3 minutes longer to evac with 5x the number of exits?
Alan Hewat 3
The smoke rapidly filling the cabin worries me. Smoke kills before fire. Should external air intake not be shut off routinely on take-off and landing ? Lots of well deserved praise for the crew, passengers and strength of the aircraft hull, but do these new composite construction materials produce toxic smoke more quickly even if they resist fire as well as aluminium?
Billy Croan 1
its nothing short of gaslighting to be told that carbon fiber is "as fire resistant as" aluminum. Plastic vs metal folks. stick some of each in a candle and tell me what happens.
David Pockett 2
Great job but a sad end with the first hull loss of an A350. My question is how the entire aircraft was allowed to be engulfed in flames and totally destroyed when the initial videos and images show only a right engine fire, plus only very modest efforts by fire fighters, including footage on this link of a single fireman using a water hose. Surely the hull could have been saved if a concerted effort had been put into the situation but it looks like the fire fight was abandoned early in the piece. The insurance companies involved will be looking for answers even if nobody else is.
WNSlamDunk1 8
Please remember that there were TWO aircraft on fire @ TWO different locations @ an appreciable distance from one another. The response of the AARF crews had to be split between the two scenes & since they had NO advance warning it took time to get to both. Even the tower controllers were stunned. In a catastrophe like this, airport AARF's rely on fire crews from outside the perimeter of the airport (mutual aid) which took even more time for these crews to respond. EVERY fire scene is chaotic at first, especially @ night - it's the nature of the beast. Mistakes were made & a thorough review of the response will result in improvements in the future, as to be expected. PLEASE CONSIDER:

Breaking News at FLL, a car caught fire in the middle of the airport:

NB: Even "minor" incidents like this, in broad daylight, take time. Note the response from Broward County Fire Rescue (mutual aid).
Tim Dyck 1
Mistakes were made and will reviewed…
It is important to note that accidents like this are rare, to rare for everyone involved to know what to do when they do happen. Yes there are practices and tabletop scenarios and all that but the real thing is always different and a multitude of unforeseens happen in real life. Fortunately the best way to ensure survivablity is to prevent accidents in the first place which the industry does a very good job at. Think about the number of flights, take offs and landing in a day and the rarity of accidents and then thank those people who day after day keep us safe.
Mark Gibbs 1
Self discipline in this country? Perhaps lock the overheads during final descent until the aircraft is stopped at the gate.
adalbert29 1
Watching the videos from inside is absolutely terrifying. One person began recording about 30 seconds before full stop of the aircraft and continued filming right until after they exited the chute at the bottom of the front left side. It was 6:40. All through it the staff are repeating instructions (in Japanese, I don't speak it) again and again, clearly standing at their positions, cabin lights off, flashlights in hand, eventually megaphones. No panic but kids are crying, people are agitated and occasionally shouting but staying put until, as with the videographer, high tail it to the chute. Incredible action by the crew. What I can't understand is that #2 is still running with significant power with people coming down a shallow, slow chute in front.
Bruno Vezza 1
Another point of importance: only one aircraft at a time on the runway.
radu28 5
Actually, that's wrong.

Airplanes are routinely cleared to enter a RWY and hold for takeoff, BEHIND a landing airplane. Once the landing aircraft has touched down, and until it vacates the RWY, there's 2 aircraft, at the same time, on the same RWY. Safely.

Another scenario is to have an aircraft entering the RWY for take-off at an intersection, and being cleared for take-off, with another one waiting for its own take-off clearance at the beginning of the RWY. Again, perfectly safe.

Both scenarios are normally used in VMC. I've done it myself countless times.
linbb 5
Ok so we already know that and how does this fit into what is important here? We know the runway incursions have been on the upswing in recent years everywhere. There was on TV a big deal about this very thing and how at least in the US its taken care of. Well sort of and still doesnt work like it should.
It's probably just me. I'd rather not have a crash than have a successful evacuation of a crashed airplane.
N107Sugar -2
How about the crew on the flight deck listening to and confirming ATC instructions?
srobak 4
They did

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

srobak 10
You might want to read the report again. The cg aircraft was not cleared onto the runway. The runway was clear when landing clearance was given.
Tim Haight -6
I'm sure the timing of everything will come in the investigation. My point is that the final responsibility for aircraft safety is 100% the captain's responsibility. That includes the power to abort and go around cleared to land or not. The other Aircraft from what I have read was completely stopped on the runway. That didn't happen in the last 10 seconds before they landed. It took time to taxi out onto the runway and stop. Where was the Japan crew's situational awareness?
david wellons 10
Tim, the CG plane was motionless on the runway, facing away from the JAL plane, at night in the dark. IF their landing light was on, it was facing away from the JAL plane, and JAL would only have seen the white tail light and the red/green wingiip lights on the CG plane. Easily lost in the ground clutter, flashing beacons, and runway edge lights. You make it sound like the JAL pilot recklessly landed his plane into danger, on purpose.
ToddBaldwin3 1
You say everything will come in the investigation, yet, before that investigation is complete, you are already assigning responsibility and blame on the JAL crew.
Lance Neward 1
Tim, the captain is the final authority as to the aircraft's operation; there's a whole passel of people who are responsible for its safety
Shawn Smith 5
The landing aircraft does not have the responsibility of making sure the runway is clear. That is ATC's responsibility and why the controllers give airplanes approval to taxi and stop clear of the runway versus telling them to taxi and take off at will. A landing airplane is traveling too fast for the pilots to be able to tell if another airplane is on the runway during most landings and at a certain point, are unable to pull up their aircraft even if they see something on the runway. I suggest you drive your car at 100 mph and try to watch the road in front of you for a rabbit crossing it, and then stop your car without crashing it. You won't be able to.
Tim Dyck 1
I have a sports car and when driving in remote arias with long distances between townsI often go in excess of 100mph. It’s great to push the limits of ability and reflexes and I agree with your analogy.
Billy Croan 1
I guess that explains the lovely curtains being installed in cockpits these days. Since it's ATC's responsibility why bother looking outside when you could have some beautiful energy-saving drapery.
David Roberts 5
Wrong. Look up USAir 1493. a 737 that landed on top of a communter plane at night in LAX. The crew was not faulted, ATC was.
Everyone on the JAL flight survived, but 5 of 6 on the plane on the ground died.
btweston 1
Yeah the other plane kind of landed on them.
adalbert29 1
From what you can see on multiple videos is that the Airbus was rolling flat on the runway when it strikes the 8. Videos show the nose cone is crushed and there is burning debris jammed against the nosewheel being pushed along. Perhaps a major portion of the 8's fuselage. From the distant video showing the impact you can clearly see the Airbus was down flat and rolling before striking. Perhaps the burning debris at the nose gear aided the collapse of it. All of it very sad.


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