Runways at three-quarters of the airports in Japan, including its busiest gateways, Narita and Haneda, do not meet safety standards for preventing severe overrun accidents, the transport ministry says.
The “runway end safety area” should extend at least 90 meters from the end of a runway strip, but 73 of the 97 airports nationwide fail to meet this requirement, the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry said Friday.
Last week, an All Nippon Airways plane skidded off the runway after landing at New Chitose Airport near Sapporo. No one was injured and the plane avoided serious damage after plowing into snow in the safety area, indicating it was sufficient to mitigate the slip.
The ministry has set up a review team and is expected to draw up a plan by March to promote installation of the required safety areas. If no space beyond runways can be secured, the ministry may consider shortening runways or introducing a system to forcibly decelerate planes.
The standards were established in 2013, but 75 runways at the 73 airports were found not in compliance in 2016.
These include the shorter of the two runways at Narita, where expansion has long faced opposition from land owners, and one of the four at Haneda, which is stretched close to Tokyo Bay, leaving no space for safety areas.
According to the ministry, there have been 22 overruns since 1974, excluding the one at New Chitose Airport.
The pilot in that incident said the plane slipped off the runway while hurrying to enter the taxiway, sources said.
The pilot was applying full braking force right before the incident, suggesting the wheels locked, the sources said.
The plane needed to taxi about 2 km as the only available taxiway at the time was at the opposite end of the landing point. The overrun may have been caused by the plane’s inability to decelerate enough on the icy ground around it, the sources said.
The plane went beyond the 60-meter overrun area and finally stopped after hitting a pile of snow in the 192-meter safety area.