Japan Airlines Flight 115

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Japan Airlines Flight 115
Japan Airlines B747SR-46 (JA8119) at Itami Airport in 1984.jpg
JA8119, the aircraft involved, seen in 1984 after being repaired and one year before it crashed
DateJune 2, 1978 (1978-06-02)
SummaryTailstrike caused by pilot error
SiteItami Airport, Osaka, Japan
Aircraft typeBoeing747SR-46
OperatorJapan Airlines
Flight originTokyo International Airport
DestinationItami Airport
Survivors394 (all)

Japan Airlines Flight 115 was a scheduled domestic Japan Airlines passenger flight from Tokyo's Haneda Airport to Itami Airport, Osaka Prefecture. The aircraft suffered tailstrike damage on landing at Itami, which was incorrectly repaired resulting in a catastrophic failure on a subsequent flight seven years later.

Tailstrike incident[edit]

On 2 June 1978, a Japan Airlines Boeing 747SR, registration JA8119, operating Flight 115, was carrying out an ILS approach to runway 32L at Itami Airport in Toyonaka-shi Province but bounced heavily on landing. The pilots pulled the nose up, causing a severe tailstrike. There were no fatalities, but 25 people were injured, 23 minor and 2 serious. The tailstrike cracked open the aft pressure bulkhead. The damage was repaired by Boeing technicians and the aircraft was returned to service.[1][2]

Subsequent failure of the repair[edit]

On 12 August 1985, seven years after the tailstrike incident, JA8119 was operating Japan Airlines Flight 123 on the same route, Haneda to Itami. On ascent out of Haneda, twelve minutes into the flight, the tailstrike repair failed catastrophically. The rear bulkhead burst open, the vertical stabilizer was torn off and all hydraulic systems were damaged, rendering the aircraft uncontrollable. The aircraft crashed into Mount Takamagahara near Ueno, Gunma Prefecture, killing 520 out of the 524 people on board. This was the deadliest single aircraft accident in history.[3]

Correct (top) and incorrect splice plate installations

The crash investigation found that the tailstrike from 1978 had been improperly repaired. Boeing's specification for the damaged bulkhead required one continuous splice plate with three rows of rivets but the Boeing technicians carrying out the repair substituted two discontinuous splice plates, placed parallel to the joint. The post-repair inspection by JAL did not discover the defect as it was covered by overlapping plates.[1]

In an unrelated incident on 19 August 1982, while under the control of the first officer, JA8119 suffered a runway strike of the No. 4 engine on landing at Chitose Air Base in poor visibility. This was repaired successfully and the aircraft again returned to service. This incident did not contribute to the Flight 123 accident.

See also[edit]

  • China Airlines Flight 611 - a 2002 aviation accident also caused by a faulty repairs to a tailstrike that occurred 22 years prior.


  1. ^ a b c d "AIRCRAFT ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION REPORT Japan Air Lines Co., Ltd. Boeing 747 SR-100, JA8119 Gunma Prefecture, Japan August 12, 1985" (PDF). Aircraft Accident Investigation Commission. June 19, 1987. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
  2. ^ Ranter, Harro. "ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 747SR-46 JA8119 Osaka-Itami Airport (ITM)". aviation-safety.net. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  3. ^ Ranter, Harro. "ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 747SR-46 JA8119 Ueno Village, Tano District, Gunma Prefecture". aviation-safety.net. Retrieved January 31, 2019.