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Japanese F-15s narrowly avoid collision with commuter plane on Okinawa

By MATTHEW M. BURKE AND AYA ICHIHASHI | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 18, 2018

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — A pair of Japanese fighter jets were at “very high risk” of colliding with an incoming commuter plane after pulling onto an Okinawa runway last week.

The incident happened at about 8:25 p.m. Thursday, as two Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-15s scrambled at Naha Airport to intercept a potential foreign incursion into Japanese territory, a JASDF spokesman said.

At the same time, a Bombardier DHC8-Q400 carrying 35 passengers from Miyako was coming in for a landing, according to JASDF and airline spokesmen. The turboprop plane from Ryukyu Air Commuter Co. was approximately three miles out when it was waved off by air-traffic control.

The sortie was canceled, and the jets were recalled from the runway. The commuter plane landed without incident at about 8:27 p.m.

JASDF officials believe the first fighter pilot to enter the runway did not clearly understand the air-traffic controller’s directions, the JASDF spokesman said.

Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism categorized the event as carrying a “very high risk” of a potential collision. Investigators have been sent to Okinawa to probe the incident.

burke.matt@stripes.com
ichihashi.aya@stripes.com

 

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