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A transport ministry panel is considering putting priority on computer orders rather than instructions from air traffic controllers to avoid plane crashes, ministry sources said Sunday.

A near-miss between two Japan Airlines passenger planes in January 2001 prompted an investigation. A panel of the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry concluded that the pilot’s decision to follow the order of an air traffic controller over the computerized Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System was one of the causes.

The ministry’s Aircraft and Railway Accident Investigation Commission is contemplating advising the International Civil Aviation Organization to clarify standards on TCAS. This would help prevent similar incidents, the sources said, adding that the panel is studying detailed regulations of ICAO.

The panel is expected to include such recommendations in its final report on the incident, likely to be compiled in June.

The ministry’s Civil Aviation Bureau also decided to prioritize instructions from TCAS over controllers’ orders and is currently reviewing manuals on the matter, the sources said.

On Jan. 31, 2001, JAL Flight 907 nearly collided with JAL Flight 958 above the waters off Shizuoka Prefecture in central Japan. Flight 907 was a Boeing 747 headed for Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, from Tokyo’s Haneda airport. Flight 958 was a DC-10 en route to Narita airport, in Chiba Prefecture, from Pusan, South Korea.

An air traffic control trainee mistakenly ordered Flight 907 to descend. Although TCAS instructed the pilot to ascend, he followed the order of the controller, continued descending, and approached Flight 958.

A collision was averted when the pilot of Flight 907 put the plane into a nosedive to avoid Flight 958. About 100 crew and passengers on Flight 907 suffered injuries, but no one on Flight 958 was injured.

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