Further to my post about the JAL Safety Promotion Center, I’m writing about JAL’s Factory Tour and Sky Museum (which is located in the same building as the Safety Promotion Center) and will also add on the ANA Sky Museum and their Safety Education Center.
Let’s start with the visit to JAL. As with the the JAL Safety Promotion Center, visitors have to make a book in advance. As the Museum is very popular, finding a slot is quite difficult – but if your preferred date isn’t available, don’t give up as I found that checking the site over a couple of weeks, that sessions that were unavailable sometimes had availability and, in the end, I was able to get a slot that I wanted. The museum is accessed via Shin-Seibijō station on the Tōkyō Monorail – not all trains stop at this station, so make sure you get the correct one.
There are essentially three parts to the tour. The first part is like a lesson about Haneda Airport and JAL’s facilities. As I speak Japanese, I was able to follow everything without any problems. I think they also have some pamphlets to help you if you don’t speak Japanese (but I suspect much of it is self-explanatory and you can enjoy without understanding it). I have two stand-out memories from this part. First, the main speaker was very funny (not what I expected from JAL, I have to say). I particularly enjoyed his explanation that Terminal 1 is the ‘red terminal for JAL’, whereas Terminal 2 is the ‘blue one’ and that ‘you should be careful going there’. I also found it interesting, if my memory is correct, to discover that D Runway (the one most in Tokyo Bay) is unique as the piers on one side are in freshwater whereas the piers at the other end are in salt water. You will have opportunities to ask questions during this session.
The second part of the tour is free time to look around the museum displays themselves. I found this a bit rushed as part of the tour, but you are able to look it before the first part also, so I would recommend getting to the Museum as soon as your reservation allows. There is also a small shop in the museum. My biggest disappointment with the museum, given my research interests and the Center located just a few metres away (indeed you can see the entrance on a higher floor from the museum), is that the timeline of JAL’s history had no mention of the flight JL123 crash. I did point this out when I had a chance and hope this will have been rectified by now.
The third part of the tour is perhaps the highlight part, where you don a safety helmet and go around the maintenance facilities. When I went there were a number of planes there already another was reversed in. You also get a great view of one of the runways and the activity there. I would highly recommend the visit – as others on TripAdvisor have also done.
Accessing the ANA facility is quite straight forward in that it’s on the same road at the JAL one. Just keep walking away from the monorail station, and the ANA facility is on your left. The map below shows the 7-11 that is in the same building and also incorporates the souvenir shop.
As with the JAL visit, you have time to look around some displays before a lecture. Again, as a Japanese speaker I had no problem with the contents. It was a bit more dry than the JAL one (which is the opposite to what I would have expected), but it also had much greater levels of detail.
After the lecture and more time to look at the displays in that room (not as well presented as the JAL museum in some respects), you are split up into groups and taken across (using a bridge) to the ANA Aircraft Factory (as shown on the map above). This was great and a must for any airplane enthusiast, just as the JAL one is. One is not better than the other, I would recommend doing both if you can. The reviews are also very positive on TripAdvisor.
With both visits, you are given quite a bit of freedom to take pictures. The main things I remember that you cannot do is take pictures of other companies’ planes that may be in the facilities and that you should get permission about uploading pictures to social media. In this post I’m using some of the ones that I put on my Instagram account.
Turning to the ANA Safety Education Center, it is important to note that this is not close to Haneda Airport, but close to Shimo-Maruko station.
As with the JAL Safety Promotion Center, you must make a reservation – between 4 and 30 days before the visit according to the official site. I visited back in 2013 as part of my research and went on a specially organised visit, so I cannot comment in detail on what a standard tour is like. I’m also not going to go into detail about the Center itself as I am aware from my visits to other similar centres how things may have changed in the intervening years. However, while the JAL Safety Promotion Center very much has the feel of being a JL123 museum, the ANA is clearly laid out much more as an education and training centre (the equivalent parts for JAL are in different rooms and so not seen during a standard tour), although there is certainly a lot of detail about their worst (and, at the time, the world’s worst) plane crash – flight NH58 which crashed over Shizukuishi and which gets mentioned in my study Developing a Model to Explain Modifications to Public Transportation Accident Memorials.