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.