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Cablegate: Pilots Convey Concerns About Jalways-Dod Jet Incident

VZCZCXRO1369
RR RUEHFK RUEHNAG RUEHNH
DE RUEHKO #5024/01 3012242
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 282242Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8995
INFO RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RHMFIUU/USFJ
RUAHYAF/5AF YOKOTA AB JA
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEHFK/AMCONSUL FUKUOKA 4011
RUEHNAG/AMCONSUL NAGOYA 2862
RUEHNH/AMCONSUL NAHA 6422
RUEHOK/AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE 7676
RHMFIUU/TSA HQ WASHINGTON DC
RULSDMK/DEPT OF TRANSPORTATION WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TOKYO 005024

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD ECON ECOM MARR JA

SUBJECT: PILOTS CONVEY CONCERNS ABOUT JALWAYS-DOD JET INCIDENT

1. (SBU) On October 26, Econoff met with the Japan Federation of
Aviation Workers' Union (JFAU) Chairman Hiroya Yamaguchi to
receive a letter to the Ambassador conveying the union's concerns
about an August 8 incident involving a U.S. military jet and a
JALways commercial airliner near Guam. Yamaguchi said the JFAU
reported the incident to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and
Japanese Civil Aviation Bureau of the Ministry of Land
Infrastructure and Transportation on September 27, but have so
far received no reply from the Japanese ministries.

2. (SBU) According to Yamaguchi and other JFAU representatives,
the U.S. military jet's close proximity to the Tokyo-bound
JALways commercial aircraft set off the collision avoidance
alarms on August 8. The pilot genuinely believed that a mid-air
collision was imminent, explained Yamaguchi. The pilot descended
immediately to avoid collision. At the time of the incident, the
plane was at cruising altitude and the seatbelt sign was off.
"We are very fortunate none of the crew or passengers were
injured, and we are asking for USG assurance that this will never
happen again," Yamaguchi explained. Econoff told the delegation
that the embassy would forward this letter and convey the
Federation's concerns to the appropriate military and civil
aviation authorities for consideration. The JFAU letter to the
Ambassador is as follows.

3. Begin letter text:

-- We wish to inform you that, on August 8, 2007, a Japanese
civil air transport encountered an incident of being trailed by a
U. S. fighter aircraft while in cruising over Guam Island. The
distance between the two aircraft were so close that this
approach by the U. S. military aircraft twice activated TCAS
(Traffic alert and Collision Avoidance System) and thereby gave
the pilots of the Japanese airliner RAs (Resolution Advisory)
instructions to avert mid-air collision.

-- According to the debriefing given by the Japanese crew of the
aforementioned flight, the following facts were reported:

-- That a large-scale aerial maneuvers were carried out by the U.
S. military over or in the vicinity of Guam on that day;

-- That the Japanese airliner was under the control of air
traffic controllers at Guam;

-- That, when the Japanese airliner approached the point
approximately 90 kilometers south of Guam, the flight crew
spotted an aircraft approaching their airliner in descent from
the rear. At this point, the first RA was issued to instruct the
pilots to descend;

-- That when the crew executed the descent, they found on their
instrument the aircraft in question also lost altitude;

-- That when the Japanese airliner descended approximately 130
meters, TCAS again was activated;

-- That, immediately afterward, the pilots eye-witnessed the said
aircraft re-appeared at the aft-below of his airliner, and this
appearance again activated RA - this time to climb;

-- That by the time the pilots climbed approximately 125 meters,
TCAS gave collision warning and the pilots again spotted a
fighter aircraft detaching itself to the right gaining distance
from their airliner;

-- That the weather on that day was clear without cloud and with
excellent visibility.

-- The captain of the said flight commented: "At the time of the
incident we were cruising with seat-belt sign 'off.' It was
indeed fortunate that no harm came to passengers and crew. When I
confirmed that the other aircraft also was losing altitude during
our descent while I was following the RA instruction I felt the
mid-air collision a possibility. Judging from the situation, I
believe that the fighter aircraft took a certain maneuver against
the civil aircraft."
-- As we encountered the above-mentioned incident that could have

TOKYO 00005024 002 OF 002


caused a grave result, we firmly believe that it is imperative to
find out what actually took place and to take appropriate
measures to prevent recurrence of the similar incident in the
light of securing safety of the operation of civil aviation.
-- With respect, we would like to request to exert your power to
let appropriate parties concerned to investigate the above-
mentioned incident and take actions to prevent the recurrence.

End Text
SCHIEFFER

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