Japanese airlines reported 159 incidents of parts falling off aircraft during the year to March 31, up from 96 reported the previous year, a transport ministry survey made available Sunday showed.

The number excludes incidents reported by newly launched domestic airlines, such as Skymark Airlines Co., and foreign airlines.

The parts included body panels and covers for lights and bolts, but the more serious cases included one where engine parts fell off, the survey showed.

Haneda airport in Tokyo had to close its runways 49 times during fiscal 2004 to check for debris. The action is required by law each time the airport receives a report of such an incident from an airplane.

Narita airport closed its runways 19 times during the year.

The Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry is calling on airlines to be more careful with maintenance and to take measures to prevent parts from falling off of planes, according to a ministry official.

But an aviation official said it is almost impossible to completely prevent the incidents due to the huge number of parts used in planes.

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