Airline to introduce new breath test over drunk pilot

Japan Airlines (JAL) will introduce a new breathalyser system at airports abroad after one of its pilots was arrested at Heathrow Airport for being drunk.

After JAL and All Nippon Airlines (ANA) group pilots were separately found drinking excessively before flights last month, both companies submitted reports to the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry yesterday, explaining the circumstances and preventive measures.

The JAL report revealed that a 42-year-old co-pilot, whom the British police arrested for exceeding the alcohol limit, tried to keep his distance from the captains and other crew members before their flight, and that the captains neglected double-checking with the co-pilot on the results of their pre-flight, in-house breathalyser test.

The British police arrested the co-pilot just before he was about to board the plane from Heathrow Airport in London to Haneda Airport in Tokyo on October 28, as they found his alcohol level 10 times over the British legal standard.

In ANA’s case, a captain of ANA Wings, an ANA group company, became unable to operate a flight due to “poor physical condition” on October 25, resulting in the delays of five domestic flights.

The report explained that it was his drinking the previous night that contributed to the situation. The captain, who is in his 40s, resigned from the company after being instructed to do so.

According to the JAL report, the company interviewed 13 individuals, including the captains, who had been in contact with the co-pilot prior to the flight.

Other than the bus driver who took him to the plane, however, no one else smelled alcohol on the co-pilot.

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