US to provide assistance to Japan on airplane recorders in fatal collision

(Reuters) -U.S. aviation safety officials will provide assistance to Japan in the reading of airplane recorders after a deadly collision between a Japan Airlines widebody jet and a small Coast Guard plane this week.

National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy told reporters Japan had sought assistance with the Honeywell-manufactured recorders. “We will help on that,” she said, adding it is unclear if the recorders will be brought to Washington for analysis or if NTSB personnel will travel to Japan to offer assistance.

All 379 people aboard the Japan Airlines (JAL) Airbus A350 managed to leave the jet after it erupted in flames following Tuesday’s crash with a De Havilland Dash-8 Coast Guard turboprop shortly after landing at Tokyo’s Haneda airport.

A Honeywell spokesperson said it produced the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) used on the Canadian-made Dash-8, but not the flight data recorder (FDR).

L3Harris confirmed it produced recorders for both the A350 and the Dash-8, but referred further questions about the investigation to the NTSB and Japanese authorities.

The Japan Transport Safety Board (JTSB) declined to comment on the issue of U.S. assistance.

Under international rules for aircraft investigations, known throughout the industry by their legal name “Annex 13,” the probe is led by the country where the crash took place, but countries where the planes are manufactured can also participate.

Forensic experts from Airbus and French state agency BAE, along with a representative from Canada’s Transportation Safety Board (TSB) are investigating the accident, which killed five of the six Coast Guard plane crew members.

Japan, which is leading the investigation, can also ask other countries for assistance under international rules.

(Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington, Allison Lampert in Montreal, Valerie Insinna in Washington and Tim Hepher in Paris; Additional Reporting by Daniel Leussink in Tokyo; Editing by Sandra Maler)