御巣鷹25年 墜落の悲劇を風化させるな

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 13, 2010)
Never let memories of tragic JAL crash fade
御巣鷹25年 墜落の悲劇を風化させるな(8月12日付・読売社説)

Thursday marked the 25th anniversary of the Japan Airlines plane crash on Osutaka Ridge in Uenomura, Gunma Prefecture, that claimed the lives of 520 passengers and crew members.

The jumbo jet, bound for Osaka after leaving Haneda Airport at dusk, carried businessmen returning home, holidaymakers and people heading to their hometowns for the Bon Festival. In an instant, all these lives were lost.

Bereaved families and JAL officials climb to the crash site on the ridge every year on Aug. 12 to pray for the souls of the dead. However, there have been frequent reports of vandalism around the monument for the victims. Such actions are outrageous.

Many people working in aviation, including JAL employees, started working in the industry after the crash. They should be constantly reminded of the seriousness of the tragedy so that memories of the disaster do not fade.

JAL has repeatedly said: "Osutaka is the starting point for our aviation safety." Safe operations are fundamental to the aviation industry as a whole.

The JAL crash is the world's worst single-aircraft accident in terms of the number of victims. Since then, not one major Japanese carrier has experienced a fatal accident involving passengers, either at home or abroad.

Human error

However, it is true problems have frequently occurred that could have triggered a major accident, making passengers uneasy.

In 2001, JAL jetliners were nearly involved in a midair collision over Yaizu, Shizuoka Prefecture. This was caused by air traffic controllers issuing the wrong instructions.

There also have been a number of human errors committed by cockpit crew, such as starting a takeoff run without permission.

Following the Osutaka Ridge accident, investigative authorities and the government's investigation commission concluded that it was caused by a fracture in the plane's rear pressure bulkhead, due to improper repairs carried out by Boeing Co. of the United States.

If there are problems with the aircraft, due to improper repairs, poor maintenance or design flaws, the captain and other cockpit crew members will be unable to avert accidents no matter what they do.

Increase in passenger traffic

The number of passengers flying on domestic routes has increased from 44 million to 95 million over the past 25 years. Maintaining air traffic safety has become even more important.

Every sector of the aviation industry, including flight operations, aircraft maintenance, air traffic control and aircraft manufacture, should thoroughly ensure safety so as to build a completely safe system and avoid a recurrence of such a tragedy that befell the JAL plane.

JAL, which once boasted it had become the world's No. 1 airline in terms of international traffic volume, has watched its business performance deteriorate since the Osutaka Ridge crash. The airline's management is now rebuilding itself under the Corporate Rehabilitation Law.

The airline is implementing various corporate restructuring measures, including wage and workforce cuts. But we hope the company will remember to place safety at the top of its priority list.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 12, 2010)
(2010年8月12日01時03分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2010-08-13 07:44 | 英字新聞

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