Flight-Report

Review of Toho Air Service flight Aogashima Hachijojima in Economy

Airline Toho Air Service
Flight TAL12
Class Economy
Seat 1A
Flight time 00:20
Take-off 10 Apr 19, 09:45
Arrival at 10 Apr 19, 10:05
XX 4 reviews
marathon
By GOLD 386
Published on 15th May 2019

Reminder of the routing


If, when looking at the map above , this flight between two islands well off the main Japanese archipelago puzzles you, then you haven’t read my previous reports in this series. These are my reading suggestions after that of this FR:


Routing


The lounge facilities of Aogashima


My Hachijojima Japanese friend is usually cautious with schedules, and I was even more than him : not only was I even less eager than him to be stuck on this island after missing the return helicopter ride, but I wanted to lose none of the action, for me… and for you, readers !

So it was 8 :37 am when we reach the helipad with an extravagant margin for the 9:45 flight : it was dead quiet at the terminal, where I have ample time to admire the architecture and painstaking outside decoration details of the building,


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It is dead quiet on the helipad where there is no soul and no machine.


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Vertical stretch of the previous picture to make the marking legible


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"Dead quiet" may not be the best expression, because there are strong gusts of wind and the weather degrades : better not linger here.


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This is the inside of the terminal, looking right (note that a passenger preceded us)) ,


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And looking left : there is enough seating for the nine daily passengers


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Entertainment at Aogashima’s lounge is provided by this screen showing the image of a webcam pointed at the harbor where the ferry is once again cancelled.


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The schedule is easy : arrival from HAC at 9 :40, departure at 9 :45. With a 7 minute turnaround time, the helicopter left behind schedule the day before.


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The check-in counter is of the Spartan kind, with the same scale for the luggage as in HAC, some already checked in items and a fire extinguisher in its red box to the right. The general operation rules (arguably even more boring in Japanese than in English) are posted on the front of the counter.


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Turnaround time in Aogashima


9 am sharp : the island’s only policeman in the island’s only police car


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He helps a ground staff hold back the cart on the way down. Both of them wear much needed raingear.


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The policeman is waiting, and so do I in the cordoned path for the passengers on the right


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Looking back, this is the terminal, somewhat warped by the panoramic stitching of two low angle shots. There is a cemetery next to the airfield here too !


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Let’s go inside, because it is cold and it rains. Next to the (cathode-ray!) screen, the badly rusted steel cupboard contains the emergency kit (緊急用具 )


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The security check consists in using this metal detector on all the passengers like this. The luggage is weighted like on the way in, but the check in staff does not ask for our body weight, presumed to not have changed much overnight.


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A remote buzzing sound


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It’s the incoming helicopter


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She already deployed her landing gear


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Final approach


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She then turns into the correct direction, while a ground staff runs to her station


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The helicopter now descends slowly


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Less than two meters left


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Main gear landed


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Landed


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Two ground staff get immediately the cart and mobile stairs into position


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Opening the luggage cart


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The captain in orange garment goes round the machine


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And opens the passenger door. Did I mention that it is windy and rainy?


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A second cart of freight arrives


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The captain himself loads his machine


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Overall view


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We have a Go !


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Like on the way in, it is a race to nab the best seats : I get the silver medal at this sport because taking this picture was fatal in the sprint with this passenger in grey, the same who was already there when we arrived at the terminal.


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Seat 1A in a helicopter


I get a very good deal though : he takes Seat 1C, I take Seat 1A and my wife the middle seat which is a lot less narrow than that of your ordinary single aisle jet. (This model can carry up to 12 passengers, in a cramped three rows of four seats diagram.)
(Panoramic stitching of two pictures)


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I actually get best seat because Seat 1A is actually of the emergency exit kind, with a royal seat pitch worthy of a domestic business class


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The captain’s seat in front of me. I did not take again the picture of the safety card which did not try to “accidentally fall” from its pocket into my daypack.


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Door shot


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PSU


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There is a fire extinguisher next to my feet


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No logo on the safety belts buckles


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I took this picture of the cockpit before the captain returned to his seat.


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And my wife took numerous pictures from her seat during the flight, many of them botched because of the vibrations and poor lighting conditions.


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I still wonder how she managed to get these results, in such adverse vibration and lighting conditions.


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Before that, the captain boards and closes the front left door


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Approaching Hachijojima


The helicopter’s doors are little watertight that the captain keeps wiping the rainwater which falls on his armrest during the flight. (Did I forget mentioning that it is raining ?)


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Hachijō-kojima ("Little Hachijō Island") is in sight through the rain


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Hachijōjima appears next


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The ground linking the two volcanoes in the center of the island : HAC’s runway is behind the hinge on the left.


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The weather is poor but Hachijō’s Mt Fuji is not in the clouds


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The runway appears through the left door window


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Nearly in the runway’s axis


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Landing Runway 08, if it is meaningful in the case of a helicopter


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The helicopter is going to land at the crossing of the runway with the short taxiway leading to the terminal


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The terminal in the distance


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There it is in full


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Landing is just as smooth as in Aogashima, then taxiing to the final stopping point mercifully closer to the terminal. Did I mention that it is raining hard here ?


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HAC in rainy weather


The captain gets out and opens the passenger door, on the left side this time


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The single jetbridge is of course not used, and unlike in Taiwan, no umbrellas are made available to the passengers


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Going down the stairs


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Unloading the freight


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We meanwhile reach the small luggage delivery room


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Like when we arrived in HAC two days earlier, an airport staff straightens the checked luggage emerging on the map, even though there would be at most nine of them, of small size and weighing 5 kg maximum, unless extra luggage fee was paid of course.


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This bilingual poster in the background provides the deadlines upon departure:
- check in until STD-20’
- going through security until STD-15’
- boarding until STD-10’
Note the left part of the poster which stresses that you must be at the boarding gate at least TEN minutes before departure. European travelers will enjoy comparing with the efficiency of their airports.


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Leaving the luggage delivery room : the same staff checks the checked luggage stubs


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… which are of the minimal kind, but when departing from Aogashima, you could be heading to any helipad served by TAL, since the helicopter hops from island to island all the way to Ōshima, before flying back in consecutive hops to Hachijōjima which is written in large print: 八丈島.


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There is hardly a soul landside, neither on the check in side


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Nor on the shop side


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A curiosity though : the FIDS cycles between displays in Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean, and lists a chartered flight from Shizuoka. Note that our flight has been listed 11 minutes late (again, few European airports would bother mentioning such a small delay), and also that the flight from HND is listed as to be confirmed due to the weather (“Weather check”). I’ll have more about this warning in the next report ex-HAC (suspense !)


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The flight operated by Fuji Dream Airlines (what a name !) is not exceptional : we spotted another one the day of our departure from the island, but we were too much in the axis of the runway for taking a good shot.


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My wife took the least bad picture when she departed


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She is an E-175; I checked immediately to avoid public lashing at yet another identification mistake


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There was a Dash-8 too that morning. What an intense traffic that day in HAC: three scheduled round trip flights, two chartered round trip flights, plus the four movements of the!


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Let’s return to the action in the terminal : the passenger in grey is again heading the race


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There is a single taxi in front of the terminal


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The central line here is for kiss and drive (with no posted limit on the duration of kisses); the free parking lot is just behind the low hedge.


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My friend went to get his car on the parking lot (no need to have all three of us receive some more of the yearly 120 inches of rain), and we drove back to his home, going through the tunnel under the runway which is expectedly superelevated at both ends, because the land area between the two volcanoes has been created by the lava flow from the later one, and the runway is actually at the pass between the two summits.


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No is the time to revert to our departure point, with the second bonus that I had promised.


Bonus : Working in Aogashima


Bonus : Click here display
See more

Verdict

Toho Air Service

8.2/10
Cabin10.0
Cabin crew8.0
Entertainment/wifi10.0
Meal/catering5.0

Aogashima - XX1

9.5/10
Efficiency10.0
Access10.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness10.0

Hachijojima - HAC

9.8/10
Efficiency10.0
Access10.0
Services9.0
Cleanliness10.0

Conclusion

An exit seat with an oversized seat pitch and a window which dwarfs anything that fixed wing aviation can offer, with old-school seats of a vanishing kind (apart from ANA A320s): comfort was at a maximum, if you disregard the noise and vibration (but I quickly adjusted to that, actually).
The crew did their job, which included unloading the luggage.
Entertainment ? The view outside, of course !
No food or drinks, but would you expect any on a 20’ flight ?
Fluidity and access at both departure and arrival were of course optimum.
I granted a bonus in services to HAC because of the checked luggage being neatly put on the delivery mat.

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