A sudden downdraft just before landing could have hit the FedEx cargo jet that crashed Monday at Narita International Airport, airline industry officials said.
The FedEx MD-11 jet crashed on landing and burst into flames, killing the pilot and copilot.
Video footage of the crash showed the jet bounce hard on its main gear and slam its nose onto the runway. It then veered to the left, causing the wing to hit the ground and the aircraft to burst into flames.
Japan Airlines said it received a report from one of its pilots flying a Boeing 767 that landed before the crash that turbulence was observed along the approach path and warned other flights.
The airport observatory also issued a wind shear warning.
A former airline pilot speculated that the MD-11 was hit by a downdraft.
“It is very difficult to control the airplane if the wind shifts suddenly before touchdown,” he said.
A FedEx employee at the accident site said the aircraft was blackened by fire on the inside and the cargo was completely destroyed. He said the two crew members aboard had no time to escape.
Meanwhile, travelers at the airport were shaken by the accident.
Yoshiko Oki, a 67-year-old woman on her way to Italy, phoned her family to say she was safe.
“It is so frightening to think if it had happened to my flight,” she said.
A 20-year-old university student who arrived at Narita from Australia about two hours after the crash said the plane he was on was shaking more than usual during landing.
“It was like a roller coaster ride,” he said.
Winds halt trains Strong winds Monday morning disrupted some train and subway services in Tokyo, causing delays that affected more than 300,000 people, many of whom were commuting to work or school.
The Tozai subway line and the JR Joban Line were among services that were suspended for about an hour, while trains on the JR Sobu Line became overcrowded after slowing down repeatedly due to wind-related problems, railway officials said.
Twenty people on a Sobu Line train fell ill and eight were taken to a hospital, apparently because of wind-related shaking, but none was in serious condition, according to the officials.
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