Puneet Varma

All Nippon Airways Flight 58

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Date  30 July 1971
Total injuries (non-fatal)  1
Summary  Mid-air collision
Total survivors  1
All Nippon Airways Flight 58
Site  near Shizukuishi, Japan
Total fatalities  162 (all on board Flight 58)

All Nippon Airways (ANA) Flight 58 was a Japanese domestic flight from Sapporo to Tokyo, operated by All Nippon Airways (ANA). On 30 July 1971, at 2:04 local time, a Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) jet fighter collided with the Boeing 727 airliner operating the flight, causing both aircraft to crash. All 162 occupants of the flight were killed, while the Sabre pilot, a trainee with the JASDF, ejected before the collision and survived. This incident led to the resignation of Japan's head of defense department and the JASDF chief of staff.

Contents

Aircraft

The ANA airliner was a Boeing 727-281 with registration JA8329; it was less than six months old at the time of the accident. The JASDF aircraft, belonging to the 1st Air Wing at Matsushima Airbase, was a Mitsubishi F-86F Sabre, a Japanese-built version of North American Aviation's famous fighter jet, with tail number 92-7932. Japan, prohibited from making its own combat aircraft after its defeat in World War II, used and continues to use U.S.-licensed planes instead; at the time of the accident, the F-86F was one of the primary aircraft in the JASDF's inventory.

Sequence of events

ANA Flight 58 departed Chitose Airport in the small city of Chitose near Sapporo, with 155 passengers and a crew of 7 on board for a domestic flight to Tokyo's Haneda International Airport. After takeoff, the aircraft climbed to its cruising altitude of about 28,000 feet (8,500 m). Meanwhile, a 22-year-old JASDF trainee pilot, Technical Sergeant Yoshimi Ichikawa (市川良美, Ichikawa Yoshimi), and his instructor were practicing air combat manoeuvring in their Sabres near Morioka, northern Honshū. Ichikawa, who had not been watching for air traffic, was told by his instructor to break away from Flight 58 as it approached and banked left to avoid it, but it was already too late and he ejected from his aircraft. Moments later, the leading edge of the Sabre's right wing struck the Boeing's left tailplane at an altitude of 26,000 feet (7,900 m). The damage to the Boeing's tail caused it to go out of control; it entered a steep dive and disintegrated in mid-air, with the wreckage impacting near the town of Shizukuishi. All 162 passengers and crew were killed. The Sabre, having lost its right wing, plunged into a nearby rice paddy.

Most of the passengers came from Fuji in Shizuoka Prefecture and were returning from a trip to Hokkaido. Of the passengers, 125 were in a tour group made up of members of a society for relatives of Japanese servicemen killed in World War II. The pilot of Flight 58, Saburo Kawanishi, 41, had more than 8,000 hours of flying experience. He was able to transmit a brief radio message between the time of the collision and the aircraft's disintegration.

Ichikawa was later tried and acquitted on a charge of involuntary manslaughter. Keikichi Masuhara, Director-General of the Defense Agency (now Ministry of Defense) and General Yasuhiro Ueda, Chief of the Air Staff, resigned afterward to take responsibility of the incident.

The loss of Flight 58 was the deadliest air disaster at the time, surpassing the crash of Viasa Flight 742 in 1969, and remained so until the crash of Aeroflot Flight 217 thirteen months later. It remains the deadliest accident suffered by All Nippon Airways, the second-deadliest involving a Boeing 727 behind Mexicana Flight 940, and the third-deadliest on Japanese soil behind China Airlines Flight 140 and Japan Airlines Flight 123.

References

All Nippon Airways Flight 58 Wikipedia


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