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Press Release - IFATCA Warns Against Premature Conclusions

The aviation community grieves for the tragic loss of lives in the accident involving Japan Airlines flight 516 and a DHC-8 aircraft at Tokyo Haneda Airport on Tuesday January 2nd. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those lost, and the survivors who may still have a long road to recovery. We also wish to extend our support to our Japanese colleagues for whom this is undoubtedly a traumatic experience.

On behalf of the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Associations, please receive our deepest condolences and sympathy.

The air transport industry is a complex system that is made up of humans, procedures and technology that interact and collaborate to create the safest way to travel. The few accidents that occur are always a consequence of multiple factors, all of which combine in a unique way that they push a safe system over the edge towards a breakdown. 

In order to learn from such events and prevent any repetition, IFATCA, the International Organisation representing Air Traffic Controllers, stresses the need for the technical investigation into the circumstances of this accident to be conducted according to the international obligations on accident investigation:

“The sole objective of the investigation of an accident or incident shall be the prevention of accidents and incidents. It is not the purpose of this activity to apportion blame or liability.”

Premature conclusions, often based on incomplete, inaccurate or speculative information, and focusing on any one aspect of what happened, hamper the ability to learn from these tragic events. We urge the media, the public, and the concerned stakeholders to respect the long-established procedures for analysing these events and let the authorities perform their investigations. In addition, none of the actual recordings should be made available for purposes other than the safety investigation.

We therefore encourage members of the community to avoid sharing information related to the incident or making comments and speculation on social media, as this can be misinterpreted and impact the independence of the investigation process.

IFATCA has faith that the Japanese authorities will closely monitor the investigation to ensure that it is conducted in accordance with the principles described above, and that all efforts are made to prevent the recurrence of such an event.

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Download the full Press Release (English) here.