Japan Airlines Flight 472 (1972)
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A Douglas DC-8 used by Japan Airlines, similar to the aircraft involved
|Date||24 September 1972|
|Summary||Overrun of runway|
|Aircraft type||Douglas DC-8-53|
|6th stopover||Hong Kong|
Japan Airlines Flight 472 was a flight from London to Tokyo via Frankfurt, Rome, Beirut, Tehran, Bombay, Bangkok and Hong Kong. On September 24, 1972, the flight landed at Juhu Aerodrome near Bombay, India instead of the city's much larger Santacruz Airport (now Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport) and overran the runway, resulting in the aircraft being written off after being damaged beyond economic repair.
The flight departed London 20 minutes late. By the time it left Tehran for Bombay, it was 80 minutes behind schedule. The crew planned to execute an ILS approach to Santacruz Airport, Bombay. However, the air traffic controller (ATC) asked the crew, "Can you see the runway?", to which they replied, "Yes, we can". Since the weather was good around the airport that day, the ATC instructed, "VFR approach please".
After this, Flight 472 flew past Runway 09 on the west side of Santacruz Airport while descending, and executed a 360-degree turn in order to approach again from the west and land. However, when it did land at 06:50 local time (01:20 UTC), it was in fact landing on Runway 08 of Juhu Aerodrome. Juhu is 3.7 km west of Santacruz, and for use by small aircraft only. Runway 08 of Juhu was only 1,143 metres (3,750 ft) long, too short for a large aircraft like JL472.
After deploying the thrust reversers, the captain of Flight 472 realized the mistake and immediately deployed spoilers and applied maximum braking power, but an overrun was inevitable. The DC-8 overshot the runway, breaking off both engines on the port wing, and damaging the front and main landing gear, causing the nose of the aircraft to dive into the ground. The wreckage caught fire, but was soon put out by fire extinguishers.
At the time of the accident, there were 14 crew and 108 passengers on board. The aircraft was damaged beyond economic repair. 2 cockpit crew and 9 passengers (all non-Japanese)[clarification needed] were reported injured.
The accident itself was nothing more than pilot error. However, the Indian authorities were also blamed for operating an airport for small aircraft so close to Santacruz, causing confusion (see similar incidents below), even though the Juhu Aerodrome had been built before India's independence, in the colonial era. Another factor was that during the 360-degree turn Flight 472 faced the sun and morning mist, and the cockpit crew lost sight of the runway. When they suddenly saw the runway of Juhu Aerodrome, they mistook it for the runway of Santacruz, and landed on it.
Similar accidents and incidents
There have been many instances of aircraft being landed at airports other than the intended destination. In the majority of cases the aircraft is not damaged and was returned to service.
On 28 May 1968, the pilot of a Garuda Indonesia Convair 990 had also mistaken the same Juhu Aerodrome for Santacruz Airport and tried to land his aircraft. It overshot the runway falling just short of the traffic road ahead and several residential buildings when its nose wheel got stuck in a ditch at the end of the runway. All passengers survived.
Only four months after the Japan Airlines Flight 472 incident, another similar incident happened when an Ilyushin Il-18 (turboprop airliner) of Interflug, an airline of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), landed at the wrong airport and stopped immediately in front of a parked Japan Airlines aircraft, narrowly escaping a collision.
- "Rs 200-cr plan for Juhu aerodrome, more if tunnel built". Indian Express. 2010-02-05. Retrieved 2012-02-22.
- "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 24 December 2009.
- "The Legacy of Douglas Corrigan: "Wrong Way" Landings By Commercial Airliners". Third Amendment. Retrieved 25 December 2009.