Air Emergency (2003– )
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Japan Airlines flight 123 veers out of control and crashes in the mountains, becoming the worst air disaster involving a single aircraft in 1985.


Douglas Williams (as Doug Williams)


David Barlow


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Episode credited cast:
Stephen Bogaert ... Narrator (voice)
Denis Akiyama ... Captain
Ho Chow ... Flight Engineer (as Ho 'Oyster' Chow)
Kameron Xiao ... First Officer (as Kameron Louangxay)
Ginger Ruriko Busch Ginger Ruriko Busch ... Pat - Flight Attendant (as Ginger Ruriko)
Sally J. Han Sally J. Han ... Yumi Ochiai
Tim Hamaguchi ... Tokyo Controller
Shotaro Ozawa Shotaro Ozawa ... Tokyo Controller Supervisor
David Ikeda David Ikeda ... JAL Flight Operations
Wayne Ward Wayne Ward ... Yokota US Base Controller
Ramey Sakamoto Ramey Sakamoto ... Eyewitness
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ron Schleede Ron Schleede ... Himself - NTSB Chief Investigator


Japan Airlines flight 123 veers out of control and crashes in the mountains, becoming the worst air disaster involving a single aircraft in 1985.

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Plot Keywords:

jumbo jet | boeing 747 | See All (2) »







Japanese | English

Release Date:

24 September 2005 (USA) See more »

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The uniform worn by the controller is nothing like any type worn by members of the American military in any branch. See more »

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User Reviews

Your Worst Nightmare.
8 October 2016 | by rmax304823See all my reviews

A Japan Airlines 474 takes off from Tokyo for a short run to a southern city. A few minutes later there is a loud bang in the cabin and hydraulic lines are unworkable, meaning the crew has no control over the surfaces that cause the airplane to turn or to head up or down. They wrestle with the controls for more than half an hour, often unresponsive to calls from Tokyo's airport or a nearby USAF base. It's your worst nightmare. There is an explosive decompression. The altitude is such that the oxygen masks pop out but the supply runs out. The giant jet wobbles from side to side, climbs, and then drops into steep high-speed dives like a roller coaster from hell. Finally it crashes into a mountain and rests on a steep slope.

A Marine helicopter arrives and is prepared to rappel down in such of survivors but is ordered away. A Japanese helicopter reports no survivors and finds no place to land amid the burning wreckage on the slope. A dispute over turf holds up rescue efforts, rather like an argument between our Department of Defense and Homeland Security. The rescuers arrive on foot fourteen hours after the worst single-airplane accident in history, with 520 dead. There ARE in fact a few survivors. There had been others but they'd died during the night.

It gets even more unusual. A team of investigators -- Japanese, Boeing representatives, and members of the International Transportation Safety Board arrive at the site of the accident and are stopped and viewed with suspicion. The local police have taken over and are treating the site like a crime scene. Everyone is a suspect. They were stalled for two days. Finally the discover that the vertical stabilizer and rudder are missing from the wreckage. That's the tail fin. A lot of hydraulic lines pass through it. And something has removed most of it and apparently damaged other structures in the tail. The decompression had occurred when two plates blew out of the rear bulkhead holding high pressure inside for the passengers, while the air outside grew thinner and the pressure difference increased until the plates popped and opened a hole to the outside. The compressed air blew out of the cabin and simply removed most of the tail.

Why did the two plates fail? This 747 had been in a minor accident some years earlier, a tail scraped on landing, and some damage was done to these two plates. The replacements should have been secured with two rows of rivets each but they only had one row, which doubled the air pressure from inside the cabin on the two plates. It was only a matter of time before they failed. They managed to withstand more than 12,000 take offs. Experts later estimated they should have blown out much earlier. Boeing took a hit for the accident and its reputation slumped, as did Japan Airlines. If there was any good news, it was that there was nothing inherently wrong with Boeing's jumbo jet. It just required routine but proper maintenance. Still, 250 dead, some while waiting for help.

It's a fine documentary with good reenactors, splendid CGIs, and an informative narration. The director is Douglas Williams and he's a bit arty in the modern stylish sense. The camera jars and wobbles too much. There is some overacting among the cast, particularly at the Tokyo airport where one of the half dozen guys in the control tower should have been reined in before his eyeballs fell out. There's tension enough to tell its own story. How did the Bard put it? "No need to throw perfume on the violet."

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