Composites Today

Magazine For Composites Professionals

Japan Airline crash rises questions on carbon fibre composites

The wreckage of JA13XJ, the airplane involved in the 2024 Haneda Airport runway collision.Wikipedia. By Makochan12.9 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

On 3rd January 2024, an Airbus A 350 of Japan airlines (JAL) crashed into a turboprop plane belonging to Japan Coast Guard shortly after landing at Haneda airport, Tokyo. All the passengers aboard the A350 were rescued safely from the burring aircraft but the five of the six-coast guard crew were killed.

The news agency Reuters reported “the runway collision in Japan marks the first time a modern lightweight airliner has burnt down and is being seen as a test case for how well a new generation of carbon-composites airplanes copes with a catastrophic fire. While investigators seek the cause of the collision, the aviation industry is keen to confirm the survivability of high-tech composites airliners which have transformed the economics of long-haul flight and airlines in the past decade.”

As per information available the external structure of the A350 such as fuselage, major portions of wings, tails, and nose section are made of composites and it is 53% by weight.

The crash “is really the first case study that we have, not only from a fire perspective, but also just from a crash survivability perspective,” said Anthony Brickhouse, an air safety expert at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University”, the agency quoted.

“Experts said the fact that all passengers and crew evacuated safely while the structure was intact will renew confidence in the materials which were certified with special conditions. But they cautioned it is too early to draw full conclusions about how the A350’s composites hull held up against fire or what technological lessons may be learned” states the news report.