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JAL admits safety wasn't top priority

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JAL admits safety wasn't top priority

Old 15th Apr 2005, 10:45
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Grrr JAL admits safety wasn't top priority

http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-...504150158.html

JAL admits safety wasn't top priority

04/15/2005
The Asahi Shimbun

In an astonishing admission aimed at explaining its troubled record in recent months, Japan Airlines on Thursday said safety had not been its top priority.

All efforts and attention were focused on punctuality. The airline was careless about safety, JAL said in a report to the transport ministry on steps it is taking to restore its tarnished reputation.

JAL is under government orders to pull itself together following a string of mishaps, hence Thursday's report on its measures to prevent a recurrence of maintenance mistakes and flight regulation violations.

And in a case of worst-possible timing, part of the flap from the wing of a JAL aircraft that landed at Narita International Airport on Thursday was found to have fallen off in flight, officials said.

Flight 73, carrying 428 passengers and crew members, arrived at 5:10 p.m. from Honolulu.

Mechanics found the component had detached from the main left wing.

The airport's 4,000-meter runway that the aircraft used was closed for three minutes from 6 p.m. to search for the missing part. It was not found.

JAL said the mishap did not compromise flight safety.

Upon receiving JAL's report, officials of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said they will regularly inspect facilities and airports used by the airline to confirm that the company's safety measures are being observed.

The ministry also grounded a JAL pilot for one month beginning today for starting takeoff procedures without clearance from air traffic control at New Chitose Airport near Sapporo. The pilot of the Tokyo-bound flight was forced to abort takeoff at the last moment in January because another aircraft had just landed on the runway about a kilometer away.

In another incident, at Inchon Airport in South Korea, the pilot and co-pilot of a flight bound for Narita misheard the control tower's instructions to wait, and taxied onto the runway, forcing another plane to restart landing procedures.

Reprimands or warnings were issued in both incidents.

On March 17, a clearly fed-up transport ministry ordered JAL to improve its operations.

In its report to the transport ministry on Thursday, JAL acknowledged the string of mishaps stemmed from a lack of awareness within the organization that safety should be the main priority. The company said maintaining reliable flight departures took precedence over safety. It also cited strains between management and employees resulting from the merger of the old Japan Airlines and Japan Air System.

The JAL report said management will hold 100 meetings with workers over a period of two months to listen to the views of rank and file workers and ram home the need to focus on safety.

The company said it will also review its maintenance and flight regulations.

In addition, JAL said it would set up a "safety headquarters" to ensure that information is shared and immediate directions are issued in emergencies.

Kazuo Kitagawa, the transport minister, said after receiving the JAL report: "Problems have continued even after JAL received the ministry's improvement order (in March). This is an extraordinary situation. The public rightly remains critical of JAL. So I implore JAL to unite in ensuring safety."

"There are no other examples of an airline coming under such ministry monitoring," noted an official with the ministry's Civil Aviation Bureau.(IHT/Asahi: April 15,2005)
From an airline that has seen some of the worst in aviation history this really surprises me. I recall that after the crash of JAL123 in 1985 the JAL CEO resigned and as with other major airlines that have seen some really bad things happening to them, they vowed safety would be their top priority from then on.

Hardly 20 years down the road we see this.
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Old 15th Apr 2005, 16:22
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Well at least they have admitted it. Not like many others who just hope nothing happens to expose their safety deficiencies.
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Old 15th Apr 2005, 16:28
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Admission is one thing

Culture change is completely another, I don't think for one minute that this will have any effect, apart from the sacrificial one or two that fall on the sword........

You can't change years of history, and their healthy disregard for non-japanese opinions and methods, especially western ones.

If it's not done the Japanese way, how can it be correct?

Waiting for a Japanese input on this thread............
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Old 15th Apr 2005, 21:02
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For the year ended the 31st March 2005, Japanese Airlines reported the loss of 159 items from their aircraft whilst operating. This is up some 60% from the 96 reported in the previous 12 months.
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Old 25th Apr 2005, 05:45
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When a company refuses to advise its pilots of NOTAMS that directly affect flight ops, such as the removal of the windsock at an airport, is it any wonder there`s a Safety issue?!

It`s not enough to issue brochures that are titled "Safety" (or similar), the understanding and implementation needs to start at the grass roots level.

Just for info., All Nippon (aka ANA) also had a similar incident over the week-end, when they entered the active runway in Niigata without an ATC clearance.
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Old 25th Apr 2005, 06:56
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Are any of these contributions here, written by folks that really know Japan or are these just personal impressions and ides of what it may be like in Japan? I know for a fact that I may feel as safe and secure on a Japanese carrier as with any other European or US national airline. As Avman said, just because other airlines didn’t bring out such a report doesn’t mean that they're flawless. Kaptin M is right, safety starts at the grass roots but just because I don’t do as you do doesn’t mean that Im wrong or you're right.
On the by by JAL123 was due to fçuk up of Boeing (US – not Japanese).
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Old 25th Apr 2005, 08:35
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Smile

N380UA: I don't care if it actually was the fault of a Boeing engineer, or for that matter the weatherman, Michael O'Leary or a fat lady in the back who sat down too fast. The 747 had "Japan Air Lines" written on it, and as far as I'm concerned that is where the ultimate responsibility for this particular accident lies.

Don't get me wrong, -as a matter of fact I will be on a JAL 777 out of CDG next thursday- I trust them with my life just as good as any other legacy carrier, but when I read stuff like this it does tend to worry me
But even so, I still hold JAL in very high regard, and I am happy that they can be (sort of) sincere about this problem.

It kind of sets them apart from other Japanese companies, I'm sure you all agree.
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Old 25th Apr 2005, 09:28
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safety and sense

Come on chaps............what's the shock-horror ?NO airline puts safety first. The FIRST consideration is to make a profit, that's what an airline business is all about.
It always annoys me when, following an incident or accident, a spokesman solemnly states that "..............safety is this airline's number one priority"
Of course it isn't and never will be..........it might be the SECOND or be given a very high priority.
When you think about it, it's no use having the safest airline in the world that never makes a profit (Unless the the people are prepared to subsidise it ?)
At least some airlines are prepared to admit it rather than being deceitful.
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Old 25th Apr 2005, 11:30
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Where the heck was the 'admittance' when JAL actively covered up the runway incursion in January??????

Oh, and no deceit there then....

Yes, they maybe a legacy carrier, and the legacy is a culture of no change, and the Captain is god.

My partner travels by JAL occasionally, and it's the only airline out of the 'legacy' ones where I feel the need for her to call as soon as she lands, because if there was an incident, I don't believe that much of the Western world would ever hear about it....
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Old 28th Apr 2005, 16:09
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JAL

This guys in Japan have a few problems in general. They don't learn from mistakes and to master their life they need a guidebook. It will take ages until the society in Japan is going to change and as a result from this flying in Japan remains unsafe as long as a Japanese captain is in charge.
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Old 29th Apr 2005, 01:01
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I do get the feeling that on time performance is way more important than safety. The recent train derailment sounds like it could such a case. A while back there was a detailed show about the sarin attacks on the Tokyo subway. On one of the trains when it stopped at the station, all these people got off choking and collapsing. After a brief look the train was sent the on its way. You would think that there would be some suspicion of something unusual requiring more investigation.
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Old 29th Apr 2005, 01:58
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virgo, fully agree. After all the SAFEST way to run an airline is to never to allow your planes off the ground.
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Old 29th Apr 2005, 10:42
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JA841B your quite obviously stationed in the wrong country then.
flying in Japan remains unsafe as long as a Japanese captain is in charge.
I personally know a number of Japanese skippers that are very competent in terms of their piloting, airmanship and MCC abilities shying no comparison with any other western captains. To say that flying in Japan would be unsafe is utter nonsense!
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Old 29th Apr 2005, 13:34
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Posted this initially to Safety CRM and QA, but it may fit just as well here...

An insight into the background to the commuter train incident from "Japan Today"

"The accident is a result of JR West's policy to prioritize operations over commuters' safety and a working environment in which the drivers are driven by fear and extreme pressure not to err — or face punishments," Osamu Yomono, vice president of the Japan Confederation of Railway Workers' Unions, said in a news conference in Tokyo.

Yomono was referring to the so-called "reeducation" program in which erring train drivers are forced to reflect on their mistakes and vow never to do it at the threat of losing their job.

Takami, who was 11 months on the job, underwent a 13-day reeducation program for a past mistake. Takami's 90-second delay will have led him to go through the same program.

Takuya Nakao, a senior member of the West Japan Railway Workers' Union and a train driver for almost 14 years, said his experience in the reeducation program because of an overrun was "demeaning."

"Apart from writing six to eight pages of reports everyday where I had to reflect on my mistakes and my duties as a driver, I had to stand at the train platform and greet the drivers when their trains come and leave the tracks. It was obvious for all to see that I was doing that because I was being punished and it was awfully hard for me," he said.

Nakao resumed his work after three months after he was forced to vow to never repeat such a mistake and if he does, he is ready to leave his job.

"Unless I tell them so, I will never be let off the hook," he said.

Yomono adds: "Drivers under reeducation have to do meaningless chores such as weeding and are shouted at and intimidated by superiors. Fear of being subjected to this again must have overwhelmed him and deprived him of the ability to make a normal judgment." He urged that the management to rethink its policies."


Different transport mode, same culture, similar issues. Hmm

________________________________________________
Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong
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Old 30th Apr 2005, 01:12
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Jal admits safety wasn't top priority

Japanese aviation is different to say the least but people making comments as to the abilities of Japanese pilots is absurd.

"flying in Japan remains unsafe as long as a Japanese captain is in charge"

A bit harsh I fear. Yes there are some cultural issues but from my experience I have found only the same cross section of good and bad that you would find in any western country.
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Old 30th Apr 2005, 02:53
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Yes, you are correct LongRangeNav, it is the cultural issues that make Japanese (and most other Asian countries) flight decks a less than optimum environment for safe aviation operations.

Regardless of the CRM courses given, there is the deep-rooted and centuries long established tradition of respecting one`s elders, and in Asian cultures this means NOT questioning the senior person`s decision and obeying it REGARDLESS of whether the younger person knows that failure will be the end result.
I have experienced it first hand.

Unfortunately (or fortunately) for foreign pilots flying in Asian airlines, because we are NOT of the nationality of the country in which we work, we are treated as second class citizens - this is particularly so in Japan - and as a result find that we sometimes have an uphill battle with airline management supporting our (the Captain`s) case against the local F/O`s, many of whom may have been in the company 3 years or less!

Punishment in Asian societies - rather than positive re-inforcement - is par for the course.
It is MORE important (and far easier, of course) to find SOMEONE to blame, rather than investigating a system that has been in place, unchanged, for decades...or longer.
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Old 30th Apr 2005, 05:36
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Why is Japan being selected for criticism in not putting safety first...In 20 years of being professionally involved in the industry in various levels of airline operation I've never worked for any operation that gave safety the top priority... indeed.. the passengers themselves don't give safety the top priority.... safety is traded off for both economy and convenience ...
The important factor is that safety standards should not be allowed to fall below a certain level....

That level is generally extremely high world-wide. Not being complacent... we need to constantly monitor the situation...but let's not kid ourselves that any one nation or culture alone is subject to commercial pressures... every one of us who've been around for more than a few years will I'm sure, have witnessed examples of commercial pressure intruding into safety standards.

Sometimes that pressure is succesfuly resisted, othertimes not.
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Old 30th Apr 2005, 06:55
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Captain M, I hear what you are saying but there are still a lot of Japanese pilots who are well aware of their own cultural limitations and try and work around them. Young co-pilots here, or at least where I work, consistently say that they enjoy working with foreign captains, and for one I find that encouraging for the future. If we represent ourselves well they may well take on some of our initiatives.

Yes, CRM, in some cases is a joke, but if we apply it as it should be then surely it will rub off.

A friend of mine told me that Japan is not right , not wrong, its just different! They are far from perfect but which country is, and on the whole I can think of a lot worse places to fly. Times are changing in Japan just not as fast as elsewhere maybe.

When I started in Japan I did feel like a second class citizen, and to some extent I still do, but at work I certainly feel that my services are valued. At the end of the day we are guests here and it suits us to be here, for whatever reason, so we have to deal with it. It's their Sandpit!
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Old 30th Apr 2005, 16:22
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As a sideline:-
Jet Ordered to Land on Closed Runway

Saturday April 30, 2005 4:31 PM


TOKYO (AP) - A passenger jet was ordered to land on a runway closed for repairs at Tokyo's domestic airport, and officials on Saturday blamed the mishap on air traffic controllers.

Japan Airlines flight 1158 from Obihiro, northern Japan, landed on the runway at Haneda Airport minutes after it was closed for construction Friday night, said Kenichi Kohashiguchi, an official at the Transport Ministry's accident investigation commission.

A second plane was headed for the same runway several minutes later, but was ordered to change its approach at the last minute, Kohashiguchi said.

Both flights landed safely and no injuries were reported, he said.

The error occurred because air traffic controllers forgot the runway had been closed, a Transport Ministry official told a news conference later Saturday. Nearly 20 air controllers were on duty at the time and none of them noticed, he said.

"We found out that all the duty controllers had forgotten the runway closure,'' ministry official Yoshinori Furukawa told the televised news conference. "We apologize for the trouble that has caused everyone to worry.''

The runway, one of three at the airport, is closed three nights a week for construction work from through October.
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Old 1st May 2005, 23:49
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When a company refuses to advise its pilots of NOTAMS that directly affect flight ops...... is it any wonder there`s a Safety issue?!
I wonder how much the above contributed towards the incident as well?
OCC (Operational Control Centre) deciding that the pilots "don't need" this sort of information, in spite of ATC thinking it important enough to issue a NOTAM.

At the end of the day we are guests here and it suits us to be here, for whatever reason, so we have to deal with it. It's their Sandpit!
Just because it's "their Sandpit", LRN, that does NOT mean that lesser values of Safety than are applied as an industry norm have to be accepted.
When CRM and culture are in conflict, then CRM must take priority.
Unfortunately this IS sometimes the case (CRMvsCulture), and convincing two like-minded individuals to go against all that they have been raised with since birth, and live with on a daily basis, is expecting a BIG turnaround....and it is NOT happening!
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