The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry is considering taking disciplinary measures against two air traffic controllers in Takamatsu, Kagawa Prefecture, after an incoming flight was unable to communicate with the tower for 10 minutes.
According to the ministry, the incident occurred last Monday night. Sankei Shimbun reported the pilot of a Japan Airlines flight bound for Takamatsu from Haneda contacted the control tower at 6:23 p.m. to request clearance to land but received no reply. The pilot then tried Kansai airport and was told to remain in a holding pattern until they could find out what was going on.
An All Nippon Airways flight, due at Takamatsu, was also requested to stand by, Sankei reported. Contact with the Takamatsu tower was re-established at 6:33 p.m. and both flights landed safely.
According to transport ministry officials, there were two controllers on duty in the tower at the time. One of them, a man in his 60s, had been absent from the tower for about 50 minutes, “doing research,” it was reported. The second controller, a man in his 40s, told officials that he mistakenly set the speaker volume too low.
A transport ministry spokesman said the two controllers may be punished. It also said that it has asked the airport authority to conduct refresher courses for all air traffic controllers.