A Japan Airlines pilot has evaded blood-alcohol tests more than 100 times since last year

  • The latest revelation adds to a series or drink-related incidents involving the airline’s flight crew, including last month’s jailing of a pilot in the UK
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 December, 2018, 10:57pm
UPDATED : Friday, 21 December, 2018, 1:31am

A Japan Airlines pilot has evaded preflight breathalyser tests more than 100 times since last year, the company said on Thursday, adding to the series of drinking incidents involving the airline’s flight crew.

The latest revelation came as the government conducted an on-site inspection of the airline following the arrest of one of its pilots in London in late October who showed up for work with a blood-alcohol level well in excess of the UK’s legal limit.

Company officials said the 52-year-old captain involved in the last incident had not taken the breath tests because he thought they were not compulsory under the airline’s regulations.

The Japanese government plans to set more stringent rules for drinking by airline pilots. Alcohol tests are currently not mandatory in Japan and there is no set legal limit.

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According to Japan Airlines, the pilot in the latest case, who has flown 180 services since the summer of 2017, avoided taking breathalyser tests 110 times during that period. There were also 49 cases in which his co-pilots did not take breathalyser tests, it said.

The company did not announce how the pilots would be reprimanded.

A number of drinking incidents involving Japanese airline pilots have surfaced this year. The pilot arrested in London was about 10 times over the UK’s legal limit and was sentenced to 10 months in prison by a British court late last month.

Separately, Japan Airlines said in a news conference on Thursday that a high level of alcohol was detected in a breathalyser test taken by one of its female flight attendants earlier in the week, though she denied drinking any alcohol before duty.

Alcohol was not detected in a test she took before boarding a flight from Narita airport to Honolulu on Monday, but two other cabin crew noticed her breath smelled of alcohol and demanded she take another test, the airline said.

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The second test detected 0.15 milligrams of alcohol in her breath, but the 46-year-old crew member said she had not drunk any alcohol since Friday and repeatedly used mouthwash during the flight. The airline said it will continue to investigate the matter.

Japan Airlines does not currently have specific rules for drinking by flight attendants but said after the London incident that it plans to introduce breath tests for them as well as engineers.