On August 12, 1985, JAL123 crashed on the ridges of Mt. Osutaka, and 520 valuable lives perished. In face of the pain and grief of the bereaved families and public distrust in airline safety, we pledged that we would never again allow such a tragic accident to occur.
We opened the Safety Promotion Center on April 24, 2006 to reconfirm the importance of flight safety and to embed in our minds, the lessons learned from this accident.
JAL Group positions the Safety Promotion Center as its 'Fortress of Safety' and the starting point of safe and reliable operations. Every staff is reminded that valuable lives and property are entrusted to us in our work. The Safety Promotion Center is composed of two rooms.
Exhibits aircraft debris including the aft pressure bulkhead, the malfunction regarded as the main cause of the JAL123 accident, the aft fuselage wreckage, cockpit voice recorder, passengers' personal belongings, newspaper reports, and photographs of the crash site.
Features the history of aviation safety, which describes safety improvements based on lessons learned from accidents, and a panel describing actual cases of severe accident mitigation, etc.
Also shown are message cards containing "My Safety Pledge" of JAL Group staff.
On August 12, 1985, JL123 (JA8119) took off to Osaka Itami Airport from Haneda Airport at 18:12 with 509 passengers and 15 crew members on board.
At 18:24:35, there was a booming noise just before reaching a cruising altitude of 24,000 feet (7,315 meters) and approaching the east coast of the Izu Peninsula. The aircraft was in an emergency situation, which made it difficult to continue the flight.
The aft pressure bulkhead was ruptured and the pressurized air in the cabin blew out into the aft fuselage, blowing off the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) and portions of the tail cone, forcing considerable part of the vertical stabilizer to break off. At the same time, all four hydraulic systems were severed, making the flight control surfaces inoperable.
The aircraft continued to fly with severe Dutch roll and phugoid motions for about 32 minutes. Finally, at about 18:56 the aircraft crashed into the south ridge of Mount Osutaka (1,565 meters) near Ueno Village, Tano County in Gunma Prefecture.
The probable cause of this accident is explained as follows. The JA8119 aircraft experienced a tail strike on the runway during a landing at Itami Airport seven years prior to the accident. The repair work by Boeing was faulty when they spliced the lower half of the aft pressure bulkhead to the upper half. This resulted in a formation of many small fatigue cracks originating from joint, which had gradually extended over the subsequent seven years. The cracks had spread, connecting each other, and on this flight when the pressure difference between the cabin and the fuselage aft of the bulkhead increased, the bulkhead finally fractured violently, creating an opening between two to three meters in size. (Abstracts from the report by the Aircraft Accident Investigation Commission, Ministry of Transport).
Search and rescue operations started immediately, however, the official search and rescue unit only could arrive at the crash site early the following morning because the crash site was in a remote area and took time to pin point the location. Among the 524 passengers and crew members, there were four heavily injured survivors.