It's October.
A piece of news has taken the airline industry alongside.

A lot of wrestlers ended up on the same plane, and they were overweight.
It is said that a temporary flight was operated in a hurry.

It was a rare problem that all the aviation people had never heard of, and it was picked up by overseas media.

What was going on at the time?

(Osaka Broadcasting Station, Kansai Airport Bureau, Reporter Hiroyuki Takahashi)

"It doesn't fit, I can't."

The person who explained the situation at that time was Toshiyuki Okutsu, manager of the Japan Airlines Operations Control Department.

The problem came to light on the night of October 10.

From around 11:6 p.m., the airline begins preparations for the next day's flight. This is to inform the controller of when and how much fuel to fly and how much fuel to fly, and to create a "flight plan" to be shared within the company.

What is important here is "weight" and "balance (center of gravity)".

It is called "Uebara" for short, and for safe operation, it checks whether the weight and center of gravity of the aircraft loaded with passengers, cargo, and fuel are within the standards for each flight. This is because the weight that can be safely taken off and landed is determined by the model. Even if the weight is within the standard, if there is a bias in the front or back, the plane will lose its balance.

At this time, the person in charge at the head office in Tokyo noticed that the two flights, "Haneda to Amami" and "Osaka to Amami", were quite heavy.

Both of them had a number of group reservations, and the name of the reservation was that of a sumo wrestling group participating in the national sports held in Amami Oshima.

Usually, passengers calculate at 1 kilos per person, while athletes such as wrestlers and rugby players calculate at 70 kilos. When the weight of passengers and fuel was taken into account, both flights were already overweight, exceeding the "maximum takeoff weight" that can be safely taken off.

Okutsu: "It's a common occurrence that it's heavy, but at first, I thought we could reduce the amount of cargo and fuel, so I told the person in charge, 'Let's make adjustments.' However, after a while, he replied, "It doesn't subside, I can't do it." Even if we didn't carry any cargo at all, it was an abnormal number, so I thought this was bad. I've been involved in flight for more than 30 years, but this was my first experience."

Unusual things overlap ...

Why did this happen?

- One of the national sports that was held on the island was
that the national body was held on an "island" called Amami Oshima. According to several athletes who have participated in national sports, they often use cars and buses to get to the match venues. However, this time the main means of transportation was airplane, and there was only one flight a day from Haneda and Osaka to Amami.

● Blind spots in internal rulesThere
was also a reason for the internal rules and the history of reservations. In the case of this company, in the case of aircraft with less than 1 seats, there was an internal rule that the operation department should contact the operation department in advance when a group reservation for a sports competition was received from the sales department. This is because smaller aircraft have stricter restrictions on weight and center of gravity, and have a greater impact on operations.

Boeing 737 used in "Osaka to Amami"

However, this aircraft is a Boeing 160 with about 737 seats. For larger aircraft than the 737, there is relatively plenty of room to limit the standard such as weight, and the amount that can be adjusted by cargo is large, so there was no rule to contact in advance. (Considering changing the rules in response to this situation)

● It is difficult to
grasp the details of group reservations, and the size of one group reservation is about 1 people. Prefectural sumo federations across the country make reservations at different times and at different stores. It was difficult to grasp the whole picture until we created a flight plan.

Of course, the fact that there is a sumo wrestling national body in Amami Oshima is something that you can quickly find out if you look it up. Why we were not able to grasp it in advance is an issue for the future, but at that time, there was no time for such reflection at the site.

Okutsu: "The basic premise is that we must deliver all our customers safely and reliably to their destinations, but this time we are sumo wrestlers who have to participate in the national sports tournament. Everybody's going to do it.'"

"Super Urgent" Review Meeting

Japan Airlines Operation Control Department

A meeting was immediately held to consider a response.

Can it be replaced with a larger aircraft?
We considered changing to a larger aircraft with more weight restrictions, but Amami Airport does not have a track record of operating large aircraft. In the first place, there was no special vehicle to take out the cargo or a "reception system" to carry out the necessary maintenance.

Can I take advantage of regular flights?
For both flights, we thought about going via Kagoshima, where there are many flights to Amami, and having them disperse and head to Amami. However, at this time, both were full.

Is it possible to reduce the fuel and make the aircraft lighter?
A plan was also considered to load a small amount of fuel so that it could fit into the maximum takeoff weight, and for flights from Haneda, disembark at Kansai Airport to refuel, and then head back to Amami. However, we decided not to carry out this exercise with safety as our top priority.

There are only temporary flights!
Osaka Airport gave up on issuing temporary flights in consideration of noise to nearby residents because it was necessary to consult with the government and airport companies, but Haneda Airport was able to secure a slot for temporary flights.

There are no planes!
Unfortunately, this was the day when there was no "spare aircraft" for the 2. We managed to make ends meet, such as changing the aircraft on other routes to larger ones, and secured one aircraft. Pilots, cabin attendants, and ground staff were also arranged.

Toshiyuki Okutsu:
"Even though the weather was good and there were no equipment problems, we had to make unreasonable requests to various places, such as changing the aircraft in a hurry or asking customers to guide us on site, so everywhere we were asking, 'Why? is returned. I've explained it many times. I think it was about an hour from the time it went badly to the time when we decided to put in place the temporary flight, but the team was very nervous."

Then, by about 9:<> p.m., the players who could not make it through Haneda were asked to take the next special flight, and those who could not make it to Osaka were asked to go to Haneda on a regular flight first and join the temporary flight.

This is a big deal!

But there was more to this story.

The person who talked about the thrilling situation on the day of the flight was Mr. Atsushi Ishida of the Osaka Operations Control Office. I am in charge of "Uebara" at Osaka Airport.

In fact, this is where the work of the person in charge of the uebara really begins.

This is because the calculation of the weight and center of gravity itself is done automatically by the computer, but if the pilot determines that "the time to wait in the sky may be longer due to bad weather, and more fuel is needed", the calculation will need to be redone. This is because if the standard is likely to be exceeded, it is your job to make final adjustments, such as thinking about which cargo to reload.

Mr. Ishida went to work at 5 a.m. on an "early shift," but was surprised when he was taken over by the head office.

"For flights from Osaka to Amami, about 15 people will need to transfer."

Atsushi Ishida, in charge of "Uebara" at Osaka Airport: "Anyway, this is a big deal. Moreover, it is not good for general customers, and it is necessary to ask 15 large players and officials to get off. I had to be in charge of nearly 30 flights at the same time, and I was paying the most attention to these flights."

When check-in begins

The departure time of the flight in question is 9:15 a.m. From around 7 a.m., check-in gradually began.

In fact, it is the passenger staff at the counter who asks the sumo wrestlers to transfer.

While communicating with his employees, Mr. Ishida stared at the computer screen as if he were praying. Even if you are a sumo wrestler, if you make a reservation individually, you will not know how "heavy" it will actually be until you come to the counter, and you will not know how much your luggage will weigh until you go through the check-in procedure.

And as the check-in progressed, the clouds became more uncertain.

About 1 customers had agreed to transfer one hour before departure, but when we recalculated, we found that we had to ask more than 10 more people to get off. Below, below.'"

The luggage was also heavy...

In fact, the players' luggage was heavier than expected.

When I interviewed the players, they brought big clothes and a lot of bath towels to wipe off their sweat.

And the heaviest of all is the turning. Depending on the athlete, it is said to be around 7 kg.

Just before departure, I finally received a list of the weights of all the athletes I had heard from the passenger staff on the field. The result of typing it all into a computer is...

It was still for 4 people (480 kg), and the weight limit was exceeded.

At the site, we had to ask the players who were about to board the aircraft to change trains again, and then we had to carry their luggage out of the cabin after it had been loaded.

We were able to leave at 38:9 a.m., 53 minutes behind schedule.

The players who were to board a special flight from Haneda

In the end, 14 people, close to the initial estimate, could not make it through and went to Haneda. On the Haneda flight, where almost the same measures were taken, 13 players offered to cooperate, and a total of 27 players headed to Amami Oshima on a special flight departing at 1:25 p.m.

The wrestlers are...

How did these players react to this situation?

We talked to Mr. Shojiro Tabata (115 km), a representative of Gifu Prefecture and an employee of Ogaki City, who had to take a considerable detour from Osaka to Amami via Haneda.

Shojiro Tabata (left)

Shojiro Tabata, representative of Gifu Prefecture
: "At first, I was surprised, and even when I was heading to Haneda, I had a rough feeling, 'Why am I heading to Haneda?' However, when I met my sumo wrestling friends in Haneda, I was excited, and the people who boarded the special flight were not angry, and they were enjoying the situation, saying, "This is what happens." I was able to make it in time for the evening meeting, and I feel that amateur sumo wrestling has attracted attention in an unexpected way."

When I conveyed these voices to Mr. Ishida, he replied, "We apologize for the great inconvenience caused to our customers, but we are very grateful for the many tolerant voices.

We managed to overcome the unprecedented troubles thanks to the team play of the employees and the kindness of the wrestlers.


Have you ever had the experience of not being able to reserve a seat on an airplane, but when you get on the plane, the seat is vacant?

This is also the "work" of the person in charge of the wabara, and since it seems to exceed the standards for weight and center of gravity, they are "blocking the seats" so that seats cannot be reserved.


In addition, especially small aircraft, the center of gravity is closer to the back, so if you cannot balance it, you may decide to put dozens of weights of 9 kg each, called "ballast", in the cargo hold in the front.

When the seats are empty and crowded, it is tempting to move there, but it is difficult if the center of gravity that the person in charge has worked hard to adjust has changed.

When you get on a plane from now on, please keep this uebara in mind.

(Broadcast on Radio 11 "N Raj" on November 22)