The transport ministry may punish personnel involved in an incident this week at Takamatsu Airport in Kagawa Prefecture in which an airplane was unable to communicate with the control tower because of mistakes by the controllers on duty, ministry officials said Thursday.
A Japan Airlines Co. plane could not reach the control tower for about 10 minutes at around 6:30 p.m. Monday and was forced to wait before landing at the airport. This subsequently also delayed the landing of an All Nippon Airways Co. aircraft, the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry said.
Regulations require that at least two controllers be on duty. But one controller at Takamatsu, in his 60s, was in another room for about 50 minutes, according to the ministry’s investigation. Another controller, in his 40s, meanwhile mishandled the speaker volume in the control tower, the ministry said.
It is inappropriate that the air controller stayed away from his position for such a long time at a time of day when regular air traffic volume is typically high, the ministry said.
New Ishigaki airport
The Okinawa Prefectural Government has notified the transport ministry that a new airport will be opened on the island of Ishigaki on March 7.
The runway of New Ishigaki Airport, established by the prefecture and operated by the city of Ishigaki, will be 45 meters wide and 2,000 meters long.
The airport is expected to handle larger aircraft than those using the island’s existing airport, which has a runway 1,500 meters long.
The prefectural government initially compiled a master plan for the establishment of a new airport off the coast of the island in 1976. In 2000, after opposition from protesters calling for the conservation of coral reefs, the government decided it should be built on the island.
ANA Tomodachi logo
All Nippon Airways will fly three aircraft painted with the logo for the Tomodachi Initiative.
The aircraft will fly routes between Narita International Airport and U.S. locations from this month to mid-2014, ANA said.
The move marks a sponsorship agreement that ANA forged to support the Tomodachi Initiative, a public-private partnership between Japan and the United States to support recovery from last year’s massive earthquake and tsunami.