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Japanese editorial excerpts -3-.

TOKYO, March 16 Kyodo

Selected editorial excerpts from the Japanese press:

EMERGENCY LANDING (IHT/Asahi as translated from the Japanese-language Asahi Shimbun's editorial published March 15)

The sight of the All Nippon Airways Co. plane that made an emergency landing at Kochi Airport gave us a scare. No one was hurt in the incident, but we cannot say the issue is closed because the accident underscored many problems.

The small propeller passenger plane that landed on its nose was manufactured by Canadian aircraft maker Bombardier Inc. Planes of the same model were first put in service in Japan in 2003. It is a new model that was introduced on the grounds that it is fast, fuel-efficient and less noisy than comparable aircraft.

However, since the series was introduced here, the planes have experienced many troubles. In nearly four years, 77 cases of problems, including failure of landing gear, that caused the planes to return to the airport or change destinations have been reported in Japan. There are also reports of similar trouble across the world.

Many planes of the same model are used for local flights that link regional cities and islands and provide passengers with a quick and convenient means to get around.

Was there an oversight in securing safety because the plane is not a large aircraft, like a jumbo jet?

The Aircraft and Railway Accidents Investigation Commission of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport is now looking into the cause of the failure. We urge the commission to promptly decide on measures to prevent similar incidents.

In Tuesday's incident, the hydraulic-powered doors of the unit that stores the front landing gear got stuck. Although there was a system to manually open the doors in case of such emergencies, it did not work.

There have also been problems with hydraulic systems in planes of the same model, but luckily no damage was done thanks to the manual mechanisms. Why didn't the fail-safe system work this time? Was there a problem with the design?

Investigators found that a bolt had come detached in the front gear hatch. It is necessary to examine whether there was a problem in the aircraft maintenance system.

ANA carried out an emergency inspection of the planes and resumed service Wednesday. We fear it may be too early to put them back into operation at a time when the cause of the emergency landing remains unknown.

The most important thing in crisis management is to take action before a serious accident occurs. Signs of accidents must not be overlooked. The mishap this time should be regarded as an opportunity to act. But unfortunately, we do not see such serious determination.

The accident could have led to a catastrophe. We urge ANA and other airlines that operate planes of the same model to take thorough safety measures.

(March 16)
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Publication:Japan Transportation Scan
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Mar 19, 2007
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