Japan to create take-off, landing coordinator in airport control towers to prevent runway collisions

Tokyo: The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry will create a new control tower role that supports air traffic controllers, who are responsible for approving take-offs and landings, in a bid to strengthen the control function at major airports in the nation.

In response to a fatal collision involving a Japan Airlines passenger plane and a Japan Coast Guard aircraft at Haneda Airport in January, the ministry has been meeting an expert panel and aviation-related organisations to discuss measures to prevent similar incidents.

To strengthen the system in the control tower, the newly created role of take-off and landing coordinator will support the air traffic controller, who gives take-off and landing permission and instructions to aircraft.

The coordinator will reduce the burden on the controller and increase take-off and landing safety by liaising with nearby control towers and other controllers – a task currently covered by the air traffic controller.

According to the envisaged measures, which will be announced on June 24, the ministry will also reinforce the current system for detecting runway incursions by making it into a two-level system with alerts and warnings.

Under the current system, when another aircraft enters the runway that a plane scheduled to land is approaching, the monitor displays the runway in yellow and the aircraft in red.

Alarm sounds will be added to that system. When a collision is imminent, the system will switch to a stronger warning sound and display, urging controllers to give the approaching aircraft a go-around order – a last-minute order for the pilot to abort and redo the landing.