ANA pilot fails alcohol breath test one hour before he was scheduled to fly

By Casey Baseel, SoraNews

On the morning of Jan 3, a pilot for ANA Wings, a domestic-flight-only subsidiary of All Nippon Airways, arrived at Osaka’s Itami airport, from where he was supposed to fly Flight 501 to Miyazaki. However, a pre-fight breath test showed the pilot to be under the influence of alcohol, roughly an hour away from the scheduled departure time of 7:10 a.m.

According to ANA, the pilot, who is in his 40s, admits to drinking two canned highball cocktails (each roughly 350 milliliters) the previous evening. However, he claims that he consumed both drinks before 7 p.m., and had no alcohol after that. This would place him within the ANA internal guidelines that say employees should allow eight hours for their body to process 40 grams of alcohol.

Nevertheless, the breath analyzer the pilot was asked to breathe into prior to getting on the plane registered a reading above the numerical allowable amount of 0.05 milligrams of alcohol per liter of air. The test was then repeated using other machines in order to rule out possible mechanical error, and when the positive readings continued, the pilot was pulled from the flight and a replacement summoned to fly the plane and its 40 passengers to Miyazaki, with departure taking place 17 minutes behind schedule and the delay affecting four other domestic flights as well.

Oddly, the aircraft’s first officer, who had been drinking with the pilot on the night before the flight, passed his breath test with no problem, and was allowed to work the flight as usual. That discrepancy suggests that either the pilot was either being disingenuous when he said he hadn’t had anything to drink after 7 p.m., or that perhaps his body’s ability to process alcohol is so low that a mere two drinks is enough to keep him inebriated for half a day. Either way, in light of other recent alcohol-related scandals in the Japanese aviation industry, he’s likely to face strict disciplinary action from ANA.

Sources: Livedoor News/Kyodo via Hachima Kiko, Aviation Wire

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Japan Airlines concludes cabin attendant drank bottle of champagne during flight

-- Japanese airline ANA causes controversy by airing “racist” commercial

-- ANA sends over 5,000 passengers to their destinations without luggage in one day

© SoraNews24

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A lot of factors go into how fast you can process alcohol. It's not always cut and dry. Perhaps they should issue breathizers to the pilots so that they can check themselves before flight. If they find that they are over the limit, it would be thier responsibility to let someone know. If they are caught by someone else, they should be immediately fired.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

"I only drank two canned highballs last night. The reason I'm still over the limit is because I had to send my liver out to get it dry-cleaned"

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Oh my lord! I get that some people can get inebriated on 2 cans, but not 12 hours latter be 0.05. A high functioning Alcoholic could smash that down an hour before and be fine. But you have to have a measure for all, basic Safety. Some Alcohol awareness classes and a realisation of ones limits would obviously be of benefit to both the company the pilots and especially the traveling public.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

@Cricky looking and feeling ok doesn't mean you'll pass a breathalyzer.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Good to hear - that the breathalyzer is being used and is working!

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Seriously this is insane rhetoric. No one operating a vehicle transporting people should be under the influence of any drug, period. Especially a commercial enterprise like an airplane flight.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I don't drink alcohol, never have, so I have no experience here. About how long does it take the human body to clear the amount of alcohol this pilot claimed to have consumed?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Oddly, the aircraft’s first officer, who had been drinking with the pilot on the night before the flight, passed his breath test with no problem, and was allowed to work the flight as usual.

No, it's not odd at all, person's metabolism different one from another. Beside that it depends on how much alcohol that pilot consume on previous night.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I had a late flight from Narita and a few hours to kill, so I went into a pub and ordered some beer. There was a crowd of gaijin at a table who looked like they were having a good time, so I asked if they would mind if I joined them. I can usually hold my own when it comes to drinking, but I couldn't keep up with these guys. They were siphoning up the drink like there was no tomorrow, beer, chu hi, whisky, all kinds of drinks. They were very generous and treated me the whole evening. I didn't pay for a thing. It was time to board. I thanked them and asked what their jobs were. "Pilots," was the answer. "Ggggggosh!" I stammered. "Are you flying tonight?" "Heavens no," one of them replied. "Tomorrow morning!"

I expect it's changed now. I certainly hope so!

4 ( +7 / -3 )

The effect of alcohol on the body has many parameters. Of course body size. Also experience. Also some Asian races have low tolerance. Also how much you ate. Also how quickly. Also you medical condition. Also did you drink a lot of water. Many many.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The rule for drinking should be 48 hours from bottle to throttle. Once on the clock, NO ALCOHOL PERIOD until you're finished the entire route and punch out to go home. These pilots have the lives of not only those on board but everyone around them both on the surface and in the air.

If you can't stop drinking for rules like that, you have a serious problem and need help. You also need to find another job where being drunk won't kill or injure anyone if you really can't handling NOT having a drink.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

@umbrella In this case the pilot said he had two 350 ml can highballs before 7pm and failed the alcohol breath test 11 hours later. Should have been more than enough time for his body to process that alcohol and pass the test. He obviously had more to drink than those two can highballs.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I'am wondering if he had a bit more than he claims.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I've met a few people who were allergic to alcohol, but didn't know it until college. 1 glass of wine put a girl in the hospital for 3 days. It was the first time in her life she'd ever had alcohol. A year later she'd learned to get drunk on 1/4 glass of wine. The definition of a cheap date.

If the pilot had 2 cans of highballs and wasn't in the hospital, I don't believe an allergy to alcohol is likely. Check the mini-bar bill.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

BertieWooser: "I expect it's changed now. I certainly hope so!"

May have changed for the "crowd of gaijin" you want to drink with, because other companies seem to be a lot more strict and other nations have actual laws against it, but as for Japanese pilots at ANA and JAL it seems like not only has nothing changed at all, but nothing is ever done about it. One guy at JAL got canned after his FOURTH time drinking the night before a flight, and even then he was canned because he skipped work, not so much because he was wasted the night before. But if Japan made laws like this, it might hurt all the enkais!

Now I can crack jokes about the departure tax and increased ticket costs going towards ANA drinking habits as well as JAL's. Because it's guaranteed we'll hear about this again in the very, very near future. TIJ.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I ran into a couple of Lufthansa cargo pilots at a local yakitoriya awhile ago, neither of whom were drinking, When I asked why, they said they were flying an empty plane to Khazakstan the next day.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Not knowing what brand he was drinking but as an example Suntory canned highball comes in at 7% ABV so on 700ml that is 49ml alcohol. The average the body can process is 10ml per hour and it takes up to an hour for it to kick in so roughly 6 hours for him to be clear of alcohol; unless there is a provable medical reason for his metabolism being slow to process the alcohol after 11 hours, this guy is lying through his teeth.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Failure to adequately and normally process alcohol perhaps is due to at least three factors. Disease creating a failure to metabolize alcohol, a mouthwash or chewing gum with components mimicking alcohol, or most likely, the individual was not sufficiently human and did not process foods like every one else.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Two 350ml cans of hi-ball would only take his blood alcohol level to 0.08 at most at the time of drinking. Everybody clears their blood of alcohol within 12 hours, regardless of sensitivity. Alcohol sensitivity does not vary the blood alcohol level nor does it take longer to dissipate in people who are sensitive to alcohol. It is only the effects that are exaggerated. This pilot is full of poop and should be fired, not disciplined.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It's not rocket science to implement a rule of no alcohol 24 hours before any flight!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Regardless of the fact that of how much or little alcohol the pilot consumed, or was able to internally process over a period of time, I'll at least give kudos for the screening process at least preventing a pilot who may be potentially impaired from operating a plane. That is not to say that this screening process alone is somehow bulletproof by any streach of the imagination, as there's definitely room for improvement in this entire ordeal as the article implies.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Another one. Who would fly with a Japanese airline? No laws on crew drinking, self adminstered tests and cover ups. Disgraceful. I wonder how that JAL pilot enjoying his time in one of Her Majesty's prisons in the UK?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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