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JAL pilot, arrested in London before flight to Tokyo, admits being almost 10 times over alcohol limit


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My goodness. My next flight to and from Japan (or anywhere for that matter) will not be on JAL.

-3 ( +12 / -15 )

Flying time is an average 12 - 13+ hours, and pilots and crew should have airport accommodation given to them, 24 hours before a flight where possible. Pilots especially should not be allowed to consume alcohol for at least 24 hours prior to a flight.

16 ( +18 / -2 )

That would be 0.189 BAC in common English term.

No wonder he couldn't pass as sober at the airport.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Oh me, I hate flying anyway, now this.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

 The two pilots who took the test with the co-pilot did not notice anything wrong with his behavior.

These two gotta be checked out too! Hell if a driver of a bus can smell the alcohol the two pilots who took the test must be nuts!

I am willing to go out on a limb and suggest that they smelled it too and figured they would cover for this arse in the air. Looking out for the dumb kohai!

21 ( +23 / -2 )

"I was drunk and don't remember anything."

10 ( +13 / -3 )

JAL said the pilot is suspected of improperly clearing the alcohol check, as the airline's breath-testing equipment did not detect a problem.

How did he improperly pass the test? The airline's equipment did not detect a problem? So a bus driver is better than their equipment and his co-workers, that's reassuring. Nobody comes out of this looking in anyway professional except the bus driver.

20 ( +21 / -1 )

Drinking should be strictly controlled as much as smoking. Raise the prices and apply more taxes.

-11 ( +6 / -17 )

This is very sobering (no pun) and is something I think about often after having spoken to many flight attendants. The job is boring and LONG. And they often drink. Drinking has a cycle and you have to cycle off and come down.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The draw of this thing makes us human....

1 ( +3 / -2 )

So he wasn’t drunk, just a little over the limit for normal human beings. His career ruined. 3 pilots to fly the plane, where after pre flight checks and take off, they switch on autopilot and sleep for 10 hours. Modern planes are very sophisticated. If he was drunk, it would be a different matter. But his level of 1.5 pints of beer equivalent, not a serious threat. If he was drunk the other 2 pilots would refuse to fly with him.

wonder if this is revenge by ANA after their pilot was busted?

-20 ( +2 / -22 )

For years Airlines enjoyed a major advantage while an there was an over supply of pilots. Now, with so many of them having retired and air travel booming, airlines are overworking pilots to the point were they are not giving pilots enough time to "unwind" and enjoy themselves between flights... especially these long overseas flights that require the pilot to have many hours of flight experience. They're human and want to enjoy life too. I don't blame the pilot but I do blame the airlines.... they should have been training more pilots years ago when the trend showed that there would be a shortage now. Japan and Japanese companies were the talk of the world back in the 1980's because their business plans were always 5 to 10 years out... it seems that that "forward planning" is a thing of the past.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

It's gonna take something like a plane crash by a drunk pilot to revamp the laissez-faire attitude to drinking in Japan.The whole week has been about alcohol and its related problems: Halloween,hammered pilots and the almost daily story of a drunk husband killing his wife in a fit. The "coolness" of smoking ciggies has gone by the wayside and hopefully sooner rather than later,so will alcohol.But the brainwashing of the positives of drinking alcohol to the public is real.

Japan could start by banning TV ads promoting alcohol consumption and do away with streetside beer vending machines.  Hey, I like a nice cool one as much as the next person, but a little more accountability on the part of the government would be nice, too.  Just a thought.


2 ( +7 / -5 )

Wow! Another Japanese adult with a drinking problem. Yeah, warn all the kids not to smoke pot while they are studying in Canada, but you can consume enough alcohol to kill a horse any time you like. I’m standing on the train at present (8:40am) and there is so-called ‘businessmam’ sitting in front of me drinking a 500ml can of whiskey and soda on his way to work - a hi-ball breakfast. No harm, no foul, right?

7 ( +12 / -5 )

Cracaphat and Spidey

Not to be argumentative (I just am by nature)...I’m kinda a believer in the person not the substance, although I cannot deny alcohol’s destructive properties. Heck I have made my own life worse at times.

But I will say this, in my childhood I lived all over the world in nations where alcohol is absolutely forbidden and it didnt seem to affect the intoxication of the mind (other methods) the violence, or the general good or bad side of human nature.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

The problem isn't that he is Japanese or that he works for JAL. The problem is why isn't a proper system in place to prevent this, and those who wish to by pass said measures at the risk of everyone's safety should be punished. The solution isn't more training, if you need training that consuming 10 times the alcohol limit would endanger those around you when you are a pilot then you shouldn't be a pilot.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

How many of you have even been to Japan???

This is perfectly normal behavior in Japan. A subordinate does NOT report, complain about, criticize or tell on a superior !!

It’s like wearing your shoes in another persons house. It is unthinkable.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Once a few years ago I was working a short term contract, my manager arrived at work for a meeting about an important meeting. Smashed to the point of toppeling over as he grabbed his swivel chair to retain balance. He hit the desk and the floor with some force. And didn't move. I went forward to help but was told its normal let him sleep he will be OK by lunchtime. The company has since gone under! Alcohol has a time and a place, it does ensnare many. A simple breath tester can't be beaten unless the operator doesn't know how to use it, or it's broken. Truck drivers, doctors, pilots, politicians anyone operating or making decisions that effect others should be randomly tested and treated if required. How many bad decisions have we made under the influence?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Interesting that none of the major Japanese news outlets have release his name.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I’m going to be a bit suspicious the next time we hit ‘turbulence’ on a JAL flight.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I’d still rather take JAL than Lion Air (which I foolishly did earlier in the year)... RIP

2 ( +5 / -3 )

This is not even remotely close to what you would expect from a trained pilot!

This could have been a complete disaster because of his lack of personal and professional responsibility.

There needs to be a strict preflight check on all pilots before they are allowed to fly, they literally have people’s lives in their hands.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

" Drinking should be strictly controlled as much as smoking. Raise the prices and apply more taxes"

Right, punish everyone for the few who can't control themselves, or follow rules.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I wonder how many of our pilots, Japanese or not, have these drinking problems, and I call it a problem. They’re snug in their belief in and trust in our high technology, but we pay to get us to our destination on their planes in one piece; JAL and ANA are also extra expensive. Service and frills are nice but they come in a distant second to not getting to our destination in one piece.

Unfortunately Japanese tatemae is losing out to their honne. We’ve seen a lot of this lately. This loss of shine is now creeping into our safety.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Truly unbelievable in this day and age and from a first world country. One has to wonder why he was never caught in Japan??? I think the improvement in testing and its procedures needs to be looked at back home rather then in the overseas airports from where they fly. There are families with children on these flights! It is criminal for a pilot to knowingly work on on flight in that condition and should IMO be jailed for it. That would be an enormous incentive for other pilots to self regulate themselves swiftly or retire!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Mixing wine and beer is bad. Especially in those amounts. That would probably have killed me.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Not wishing to defend him, but realistically, what will they charge him with? Intent? Intent to put himself in a back-up role to fly? He was still on the tarmac, a passenger on an airport bus. Fooling JAL's breathalyzer when in uniform may be against company rules, but surely not breaking the law. Is there an internationally agreed BAC level for airline pilots?

Let's hope that the other two pilots would at least have had the sense to send him aft to sleep it off.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Back in the day before the taxpayer bailed them out, it was JAL policy to not let pilots drive to the airport in case they had an accident which would be bad for PR. The company would pay for taxis instead. It was one of many extravagances the public ended up having to pay for.

It seems like the company rules do not extend to getting completely blotto the night before a flight.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Following the incident, JAL said it will introduce new breath-testing equipment at overseas airports.

But not in Japan?

The truth is no breath test technology can win against cronyism.

Insane Wayne makes a point but that is only one dimension of this kind of corruption. There are Japanese ways for correcting superiors privately before it gets so bad, though it requires pragmatic minds in the ranks above the pilot who can recognize dangers to the long-term profits of the company. The pilot would have taken a leave of absence, gotten transferred (not that I approve of this as a "solution") or even quit "of his own accord" before the problem was obvious enough to result in an arrest. Responsibility for corruption goes both ways up and down the totem pole, it's not just buka being afraid to report a superior, it includes and in Japanese thinking ultimately rests on the pilot's employers who turned a blind eye. There is no way higher ups in JAL didn't know about this if it was an ongoing issue. I suspect most drinking problems don't suddenly show up this bad out of the blue.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

hmmm is this the common pattern now...yesterday we saw it happen in ANA with the guy getting fired for calling in sick. Now we have this.

A few weeks ago KYB admitted using false data, then another company admitted doing the same...

I am glad the dirty things are coming out from below the carpet, but I just don't understand why there seems to be some sort of domino effect here...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The 12 hour rule right now is reasonable and it should be cause for termination if violated. In this case the pilot's union would fight termination so it is hard to tell if this pilot will be fired or not. The fact he drank 2 bottles of wine + 5 cans of beer in 6 hours is remarkable. Was he sharing with a Cabin Attendant (which is common)?

I think this guy should be terminated due to the potential consequences of his actions.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Just crossed JAL of my airline list.

surely all airlines should have mandatory breath blood level checks for the pilots and crew before the flight departs.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

JAL said an alcohol level more than 10 times the legal limit set under British aviation law was detected in the 42-year-old co-pilot's system, after he drank two bottles of wine and five cans of beer over six hours from 6 p.m. the night before the flight.

It's interesting how the powers that be don't apply their own Japanese law, even though it is in foreign jurisdiction, like they choose to with people visiting Canada...

The legal alcohol limit in Japan is a big, fat ZERO. I guess it's OK to pick and choose 'law' based on prejudices....

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Wow! 10 times above the limit? He must have been down on his luck or had withdrawals. Apparently, he had some company with Captain Morgan and Asahi san.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If the pilot's blood alcohol level was so high when he was tested it cannot have been many hours before the test that he stopped drinking, otherwise he would be dead from alcohol poisoning.

The BBC report of this incident states he was tested 50 minutes before departure, i.e. at 6 pm.

Alcohol is removed from the blood at a constant rate (0.016 BAC per hour), so if he stopped drinking at midnight and was tested at 6 pm his BAC at midnight would have been 0.189 + (18 * 0.016) = 0.477, which is a level at which people can fall into a coma, or die.

Therefore, I suspect he was drinking during the day too.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

OK, so his name, in Japanese, started appearing on 2ch about six hours ago, mainly due to a quick google search bringing up his Facebook profile. Now regional news sites are starting to post it, so I guess we will see his name on TV tonight.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

A classy/responsible pilot would have made himself throw up before going to work (or at the airport, just make sure you don't puke all over your clothes). Hope this is included in the next training program.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

At the end of the the day he broke the law (British Aviation Law) for exceeding the alcohol limit by nearly10 times.

When you break the law you are called to account.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

"Instead of setting stricter rules, what they should do is improve pilots' self-management and provide thorough education.”

Yeah sure let’s spend our money educating the Japanese that you shouldn’t drink alcohol before a flight. Because clearly that requires thorough education....

2 ( +3 / -1 )

its a copilot, on board with 2 actual pilots , on mostly automated route and one beer above the limit... it aint that big deal.

... I am more concerned about the assumed inability of testing equipment to detect limits and the two obviously covering for him.... because one copilot aint a big deal, but add another pilot to the bar and you have an actual problem.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Two bottles of wine and six cans of beer----wonder how much he usually drank before a flight?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Wasn't it just two days ago an ANA pilot got canned because he had drunk to much and didn't show up for the flight?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

BigYen: "And unless JAL has a policy of deliberately encouraging their pilots to drink alcohol before a flight, we saw yesterday with the ANA pilot calling in sick with a hangover that there's no case for claiming that any of the airlines are more drunken pilot-free than any other."

Any of the other JAPANESE airlines, just to qualify your statement.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

"as the airline's breath-testing equipment did not detect a problem."so was the equipment faulty? if so it need to be fixed and recalibrated, if its proved to be faulty has the pilot got a good enough case only to get a ticking off, rather than being sacked?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The two pilots who took the test with the co-pilot did not notice anything wrong with his behavior.These two gotta be checked out too! Hell if a driver of a bus can smell the alcohol the two pilots who took the test must be nuts!

I am willing to go out on a limb and suggest that they smelled it too and figured they would cover for this arse in the air. Looking out for the dumb kohai!

You can be sure they did notice it but swept it under he carpet, which is considered normal in Japan, they covered for his arse as you mentioned. Drinking before flying happens quite often in Japan, just the other day there was a similar issue about a flight from ishigaki

2 ( +2 / -0 )

He was ordered detained until he is sentenced on Nov 29.

Proper justice system at work here. In Japan it would be the usual 'I can't remember i was drunk' line then a fake apology, a deep bow and back to work....

Let's hope all Japanese airlines act on this drinking before flying phenomenon (t goes on all the time in Japan by the way) now that Japan has 'lost face' to the foreigners, which usually precedes taking action here.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If I drank 2 bottles of wine and 5 cans of beer in 6 hours, I would not even consider driving a car for at least 48 hours, let alone fly a plane.

Anybody with half a brain would know that, and should not have to be educated. Would this pilot drive in Japan after drinking so much alcohol in such a short space of time?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Ten times? Wow. Go big or go home.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

They just mentioned on the J evening news, if I heard it right, that there is no particular national limit at present inside Japan, and that airlines will set their own rules here, or  generally bow to the rules of the host country.

They added that maybe it is time for Japan to introduce some unified national blood alcohol limits for pilots here.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

From my limited knowledge of pilots on long hauls,it seems they used to have 2 days off after a long flight and it was customary to get hammered the first day and then play golf and stay sober the second day.But because of cut backs they now have only one day off after a long flight.So they dont have the chance to get hammered,But there is always a few who cant break the habit.Not excusing him just telling you what I heard from a BA pilot

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Ten times the legal limit for commercial pilots and he was in the cockpit when the police arrived. Another pilot was recently given 8 months and his alcohol level was only 45% of this idiot. Hope he likes British prison food!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

its a copilot, on board with 2 actual pilots , on mostly automated route and one beer above the limit... it aint that big deal

It's two bottles of wine and five beers before a flight. That's quite a big deal. Although his blood alcohol level will have decreased during the day he would be in no fit state to pilot an aircraft. He would be hung over, sluggish and unable to think clearly, not the person you want in charge when a problem arises.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Alcoholism in Japan is taboo so help is not on the way. Meanwhile punishment and lifetime banning from flying is a good idea. Can't take this big of a risk.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Drinking and driving is something I do not do out of respect for others.

This pilot has to be severely aberrant as an individual and I will not be taking JAL anytime SOON!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Thank goodness for that bus driver! As with most such things, it is the "lowest" people who find the problems, first.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

New meaning to flying high.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Not wishing to defend him, but realistically, what will they charge him with? Intent? Intent to put himself in a back-up role to fly? He was still on the tarmac, a passenger on an airport bus. Fooling JAL's breathalyzer when in uniform may be against company rules, but surely not breaking the law. Is there an internationally agreed BAC level for airline pilots?

He broke UK law by intending to fly a plane whilst over the alcohol limit. He pleaded guilty. Why do you not understand this? Or do you think they should way until the plane is moving before they can intervene?

He will do time for this.

JAL needs to look as how he passed a breathaliser test and why his colleagues did nothing when he was obviously in no state to fly. The whole Japanese corporate mindset is culpable for this, not just the pilot.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I'm surprised more aren't caught. Years ago I used to hang out at the Barge Inn in Narita a lot and there were always loads of pilots there drinking tons, including one from BA I knew quite well who would be flying back to the UK the next day. I'm sure they went home at a reasonable hour but the limits are just no drinking 12 hours before a flight or something and even though you might not be over the official limit you are still more sluggish than you want to be flying a plane..

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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