Pilot in Sapporo plane evacuation disputes police account of engine problem

AFP-JIJI, Kyodo, JIJI

The pilot who ordered an emergency evacuation of a Japan Airlines Co. jet in Hokkaido on Tuesday has contradicted the police account of what happened.

Six crew and 159 passengers leaped down the plane’s emergency chutes after a bang was heard in the plane’s right-hand engine and a burning smell entered the cabin.

Police said the engine stopped because it was clogged with snow and then exploded when the pilot tried to fire it back up. On Wednesday, the pilot denied this, saying he had not tried to restart the engine when the blast occurred.

Live television pictures from the scene on Tuesday showed the evacuation of JAL Flight 3512 taking place in a snowstorm. The Boeing 737 was preparing to depart New Chitose Airport near Sapporo for a flight to Fukuoka when the incident occurred around 3 p.m. Tuesday, the airline said.

According to a JAL spokesman, the aircraft was heading to the runway when it was ordered back to the terminal due to heavy snow.

It was then that the pilot reported the engine trouble and that smoke appeared in the cabin, prompting the emergency evacuation, although it was unclear if the smoke was linked to the engine problem.

“A strange odor and smoke were detected inside the cabin,” the JAL spokesman said.

Smoke was coming from the aircraft’s right engine as the aircraft was waiting to take off, according to the airline and the transport ministry.

Fire department officials said three female passengers suffered pains in their lower back and wrists caused by exiting the plane on emergency chutes and a male passenger complained about health problems after the evacuation. All were taken to a hospital.

  • Dan

    Yah, because the police were there. *rolls eyes*

  • Tony

    I will side with the pilot on this case. The police were not present and a trained pilot knows what is gpong on. And he has no need to lie about it as re-starting an engine would be normal procedure anyway.

  • Jeffrey

    Why would the police have any opinion about this? Goodness. Do they have a special “Aviation Issues” squad?