On Tuesday, Japan’s Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Keiichi Ishii said his ministry is considering carrying out on-site inspections of Japan Airlines and ANA – All Nippon Airways. The minister is far from happy over the recent alcohol scandals involving pilots of the two airlines.
“We are checking the facts through inspections and we will take punitive measures,” Keiichi warned at a press conference, “the recent scandals could damage trust in Japan’s air safety.”
On 25 October, a pilot working for ANA All Nippon Airways was not able to perform his duties after drinking in Okinawa, resulting in delays of five flights.
Recently released data showed that – since 2013 – there have been 37 cases in which Japanese airline flight crew members were found to be under the influence of alcohol shortly before they reported for flight. The airlines were forced to cancel or delay 20 of these flights. Under Japanese aviation law, pilots are not allowed to drink eight hours before they start their duty, but there is no regulation that sets a legal limit on blood alcohol level and apparently breath tests are not required.
Last Friday, the two involved airlines reported to the ministry. Japan Airlines will disallow drinking alcohol within 24 hours of a flight (instead of the current 12 hours), ANA All Nippon Airlines will introduce more accurate breathalyzers and distribute portable testing devices to all flight crew members.