Missed turn in Narita causes Air Canda 787 five hours delay


Upon arrival into Narita Airport this afternoon Air Canada’s flight 005 from Montreal received instructions to vacate runway 16L on to taxiway B-7. The crew read back that instruction and proceeded to miss the turn. Instead, the 787 found itself in a construction zone, on a taxiway that was not yet ready to take aircraft.



The ensuing delay took 5 hours to resolve. Airport officials had to come up with a way to get the plane off the construction site and back on to an active taxiway area. Ultimately it seems that steel plates were used to reinforce the ground area to handle the aircraft load. Here’s a chunk of the ATC communications from the incident, transcribed from LiveATC.net. Or just watch along with the video.

You can hear how frustrated the pilots get a couple hours in to the event. I didn’t dig up all the audio for the entire 5 hours as I think the point comes across nicely in the short, short version here. Italics are controllers talking, regular face is Air Canada crew.



Air Canada 005 Turn right Bravo 7. Contact Narita Ground 121 decimal 85. Good day.

Bravo 7, 2-1-8-5, Air Canada 005.

Switch to Tower Radio

Narita Ground, Canada 005

Air Canada 005, Narita Ground. You are entering a closed position with construction area. Hold position please.

Holding position, Canada 005.

One minute later

Air Canada 005, Ground.

Go for Canada 005

Air Canada 005 you have entered a closed position. That’s a construction taxiway, a being constructed taxiway. So, we are dispatching a runway inspection vehicle for checking around your aircraft. Hold position until further advised and at this time runway 1-6 Left is closed.

Canada 005 we check. Holding our position.

About 2 hours later

Ground control, Air Canada 005.

Go ahead.

Can you give us an update, please?

Okay, stand by.

Air Canada 005 we are preparing steel boards for towing your vehicle to pass the grass area. Delay indefinite. Stand by for further information.

We did not understand that. Can you repeat slowly please.

Air Canada 005 we are preparing steel boards for towing your vehicle to pass on the grass area. Coordination in progress. Delay indefinite so far. Stand by for further information.

Okay, so there’s no idea how much time. Any idea how much time??

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

14 Comments

  1. They made the mistake then became impatient while NRT officials were trying to fix the situation?

  2. The “is there any idea how much time?” question bothers me. After 2 hours they asked again, I get that, no problem. Then she gives them the update. Airlines do this all the time, and they’ll even tell you “we just wanna have something to tell the passengers”. But I’ve been in similar situations that the controller was in, I DON’T have a time frame, so I don’t wanna give you one, then once it lapses everyone gets mad at me, or you start harassing me for another update.

    These pilots caused the error, never apologized in this little clip, but are getting snippy with a person who is basically just a middle man and NRT officials have had to come up with a solution to a problem they weren’t expecting. At the very least the pilots could’ve said “I apologize for the mistake, but is there an update we can give the passengers on board?” At least that sounds more respectful.

  3. Yes, they messed up. But there should have been barricades and signage to make it impossible to get where they got.

    1. Dude, this is an airport with runways… not your back allie or your rural street to have barricades. Have you ever flown or been to an airport?
      Please use your brain before commenting.

      1. I spend a lot of time at airports. Generally areas under construction are VERY well marked to that effect. The lack of markings/fences/anything else in this case is abnormal for a construction area within an active airport area.

  4. Could they have sent buses and airstairs for deplaning the pax and FAs? Normally after a long-haul flight, there is not much catering left onboard.

  5. THiis not only impacted the AC flight. The runway was closed. I spent 2 1/2 hours sitting on the tarmac on my connecting JAL flight to Busan. This after 13 JFK-NRT. Bravo Air Canada—😂😂

  6. why the heck wasn’t the taxiway closed off now allowing aircraft to enter? In the states you see orange barricades all the time blocking runways and taxiways where aircraft shouldn’t go. Obviously the AC pilots made a mistake but it doesn’t seem like there was any indication not to go down that taxiway. Odd.

  7. What a bunch of clowns..
    I’m guessing with 4 pilots on board , there should be no excuses as to how they messed up ..

    Thanks Air Canada once again for screwing up my connecting flights !

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