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Pilot drinking again delays ANA flight despite new rules

37 Comments
By Kazuhiro Nogi

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© 2019 AFP

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37 Comments
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Starting to look a bit endemic, innit?

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Putting the lives of several hundred people at risk isn't a clever move. Co-pilot or not. Could understand if it was cabin crew who don't actually fly the craft but this person should have abided by the new rules. What's it going to take to get the message across, an actual air disaster?

4 ( +7 / -3 )

forced to delay a domestic flight earlier this week after a co-pilot failed an alcohol breath test despite new rules

No doubt many of these pilots, like society at large, are alcoholics. Rules aren't going to prevent this. They need help and meanwhile they need to be weeded out.

12 ( +15 / -3 )

ANA and JCAB thinks changing the rule from 12 to 24 hours would stop these people from drinking? If they have a problem they need help not a different rule. The testing is at least catching them. Now they need to suggest a program which would be available to help these guys before they hurt someone and ruin their careers.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

It's great that ANA has breathalyzers so people aren't put in danger by alcoholic pilots.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Alcoholism is a disease. Use some of that "free" Japanese health care to help these pilots, but ground them until they get through the program and are "certified" clean. Obviously, keeping their simulator times current, so they don't loss the feel of flying.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

While it is bad to be risking the lives of hundreds of people, I think we need to look at why these cases seem to be increasing. Is there something that is currently placing them under a lot more stress than before? A pilot is one of the last people I need to be under a lot stress.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

I'm beginning to think the pilots are not getting enough time off.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

A beer 6 hours before should not be a problem. But adding a spirit is certainly what made him over. It is said it takes 2 hours for the alcohol from a can of beer to disappear from the body.

Alcoholism is a problem in Japan still underestimated. Had a business dinner this week at a Nomihodai place. A lot of alcohol, all of Japanese coworkers drinking Highball, I went for beers, One guy could not drink , his liver being not good recently.

An other coworker drinks every evening but does not consider as addicted

Like tobacco, health issues are underestimated

10 ( +10 / -0 )

I flew with ANA to Canada and back to Japan a month back. Can't comment on their pilot, but their cabin crew's attitude left MUCH to be desired.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

 Use some of that "free" Japanese health care

There is no "free" health care here,

13 ( +13 / -0 )

But he failed a breath test,

I am actually really curious. When they say he failed a breath test, what exactly does that mean? What is the BAC level that constitutes failing this test?

Because the idea that he had a beer and a half a can of a spirit based drink (chuu-hai or something, I assume) and still failed an alcohol breath test 6 hours later tells me that either he is lying about what he consumed or that ANA has basically set a 0.00 BAC level in order to pass the test.

Truthfully, it is possible to be overly strict. I think the 24 hour restriction is actually too restrictive. It should be 12 hours, mandatory testing of ALL pilots before flights, AND a maximum BAC level that allows for minimal residual (practically zero but not zero).

The idea that a pilot can't have one drink the evening before a flight seems really over-the-top and an overreaction to those pilots that clearly were intoxicated.

I recognize the public safety concerns involved, when a pilot has the lives of so many in their hands, but, seriously, does anyone here believe that a beer more than 12 hours before a flight is going to impair a pilot's skills and responsiveness?

What I actually focused on in this case was not that this pilot had a beer and a half a can of spirit based alcohol. It was that he had it 6 hours before his flight.

Which means either that he consumed it in the morning before an afternoon flight or that he was up late, drank it late at night and then had a flight early in the morning.

Neither one of these scenarios is good.

Drinking in the morning before a flight reminds me of the businessmen getting on the Shink in Tokyo to go to Osaka in the morning, with their morning ippai that they crack open as soon as the train departs. That is the sign of drinking when you should not be.

Drinking late at night before an early morning flight raises all sort of other questions. Such as, how much sleep did he get?? Lack of sleep before flying a plane is just as bad.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

I like ANA, one of my favorite airlines, and I'm glad they've taken concrete measures to deal with this problem. I really doubt this has been much of a risk to passengers, though. But we certainly don't want to find out.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I am actually really curious. When they say he failed a breath test, what exactly does that mean? What is the BAC level that constitutes failing this test?

Any amount of alcohol detected would be considered a failed test. ANA's regulations state, "No alcohol consumption 24 hours prior to flying"

Zero tolerance.

> Truthfully, it is possible to be overly strict. I think the 24 hour restriction is actually too restrictive. It should be 12 hours, mandatory testing of ALL pilots before flights, AND a maximum BAC level that allows for minimal residual (practically zero but not zero).

What you think, in reality, does not matter. It's the airlines decision, and if pilots dont like it, they have an option too. Quit!

Folks with attitudes like this, are just like the people who think having a beer or two before driving a car is ok. It's not, depending upon the person, but laws can not be written on the basis of an individual.

Drink, don't fly! Wanna fly don't drink.....it's that simple!

2 ( +7 / -5 )

I'm beginning to think the pilots are not getting enough time off.

I'm beginning to think that pilots in Japan never seem to learn.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

It is hard for me to believe that this is really happening.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

For over a hundred years the entire history of aviation drinking has been the traditional way to deal with stress the world over.

Why is it a surprise that many pilots would be drinking in Japan where the industry is made FAR, FAR a more stressful environment than elsewhere?

For example the number one rule of their scheduling is built to MAKE SURE pilots no more than MINIMUM rest. Into this they get the MAXIMUM duty crammed in. This is an easy source of endemic life stress nobody does anything about to fix, and has nothing to do with a particular airline: THEY ALL DO THIS!

For those pilots who need drinking to alleviate stress the new rule provides no solutions only creates more stress.

You can't just hammer rules down pilots throat, you need to reach out to help them with their problems of which they have far more than most people can imagine.

...I should know

2 ( +4 / -2 )

he had consumed a can of beer and half a can of a spirit-based drink in his hotel room about six hours before the flight.

I’m sorry, but one can of beer and half a can of mix is not going to put anybody over the limit six hours later. A little bird tells me, “He’s a liar!”

Alcohol abuse is part of Japanese culture and not just restricted to ANA pilots. The company has now set a no alcohol ‘rule’ for 24 hours prior to flying. This should be a government and labor industry standard for all commercial pilots and drivers. I’m quite sure many train drivers show up for work with blood alcohol levels in excess of the vehicle driving limit, but they are not scrutinized. And, truck drivers? I’ve seen them sitting in their trucks st lunch time and chugging down a large can of ‘super strong’ chu-hi during their lunch break. And, don’t forget bus drivers either.

There are a lot of work related stresses in Japanese society with hectic schedules and insufficient rest times. This stress is always treated with alcohol. I very often see people drinking alcohol on their work to work or at lunch times. Perhaps, instead of banning the consumption of alcohol they should be banning the exploitation of workers causing the stress and alcohol abuse.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Jack on the rocks, better give me the bottle

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I imagine this is nothing new, they are just finally starting to enforce it.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

’m sorry, but one can of beer and half a can of mix is not going to put anybody over the limit six hours later. A little bird tells me, “He’s a liar!”

It very well could be when the limit is 0

1 ( +3 / -2 )

couple of beers should be allowed and welcome. imagine having to drive 150 rude and obnoxious people for few hours

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

Glorified bus driver of the skies and it's on autopilot

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I’m sorry, but one can of beer and half a can of mix is not going to put anybody over the limit six hours later.

@Yubaru - It very well could be when the limit is 0

Not after 6 hours. Such a small amount of alcohol would disappear very quickly.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Require pilots and co-pilots to pass security at the airport four hours before the flight.

Require them to show their security badges to the servers at all bars, food restaurants and duty free stores that sell alcohol.

Program the computer to refuse service four hours before the flight exactly as the computer refuses a credit card or debit card without sufficient funds.
-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@Alex Einz - couple of beers should be allowed and welcome. imagine having to drive 150 rude and obnoxious people for few hours

So, you'd be ok with getting on an 8-hour flight with a drunk pilot? Some people really should think about what they are typing before they post.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

It is not for us to say how much alcohol a person can handle.

As we know, some people can be complete lightweights and become inebriated from a single drink, while others can lose their control and drink more than intended.

Also, flying is not the most dangerous part as most pilots fly via autopilot. The real danger is taking off and landing. All it takes is one simple slip for 80,000kg piece of metal of slip off the runway or something to fly into the turbine and the pilots response times are not on point.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@Hawkeye

Alcoholics by who’s standards?

Koreans and Japanese may seem like Alcoholics by Some western standards the same way Americans and Europeans seem like alcoholics by Muslim or Rasta standards.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I'm beginning to think the pilots are not getting enough time off.

Maybe they just aren't getting enough.

>

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Not after 6 hours. Such a small amount of alcohol would disappear very quickly.

You are assuming to know what he drank, to make a statement such as this. While he only took a breathalyzer test, that one beer could stay in his system for up to 80 hours, in his urine that is.

Not only that, ANA's regulations are NO alcohol 24 hours prior to flying, so maybe he popped on a very low level, there is no way to know without knowing what the results of the test were.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Who thought up that stupid logo on the ANA planes ? "Inspiration of Japan " What the hell does that mean ?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Obviously the new rules are highlighting an endemic problem in the Japanese air industry of alcohol abuse. The causes are irrelevant (though they need addressing) if you can’t do without alcohol for 24 hours then you have a problem.

The problem cases will be weeded out, which might lead to a short term shortage of pilots, but that will give leverage to all pilots to demand more reasonable conditions and proper rest time, so alleviating the underlying causes. Customers should also be pressuring the airlines for their own safety, an exhausted, stressed and burned out pilot is as dangerous as a drunk one, just no easy test to identify them.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

While it is bad to be risking the lives of hundreds of people, I think we need to look at why these cases seem to be increasing.

Doubt anything changed, except now they are being tested and caught violating old and new rules.

If they cannot or will not change their pre-flight prep to NOT include drinking 24 hrs in advance, then those pilots need to stop being commercial pilots.

Getting help for the problem or not must be their choice.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

nobody is drunk from 2 beers, unless you are some 10 years old... any normal , drinking adult wont blink an eye over 2 beers.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

besides, planes today in 2019 are rarely actually controlled by the 2 pilots inside.... its a boring instrument reading job except a very rare issues... take off and landing are pretty much automated today too on any modern plane.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Why am I reminded of the movie "FLIGHT" starring Denzel Washington?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

me too, and yet this same, drunk and drugged pilot could actually save lives while facing accident

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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