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Transport ministry eyes inspection of JAL, ANA over pilots' drinking

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We'll check the facts through inspections and strictly deal with the matter by taking punitive steps," Keiichi Ishii said at a press conference before the first meeting of a panel tasked with working out tighter alcohol consumption rules by aviation staff by the year-end.

Folks are going overboard on this issue in my opinion. The case in London involved a co-pilot and there were 2 other pilots with him. The one in Ishigaki caused delays, and no one was in danger!

More people die in car crashes here in Japan yearly than flying, by far, and when is the transportation ministry going to take punitive actions against the major truck companies, or minor ones for that matter, for all the truck accidents that occur on the highways here?

-19 ( +1 / -20 )

Most disasters happen because of various things that go wrong at the time, though.

On top of that, you can't be messing around when it comes to people's lives.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

On top of that, you can't be messing around when it comes to people's lives.

Just living and breathing presents a certain amount of "risk" in everyday lives! You have a proportionately higher probability of getting hit by a car crossing the street and getting killed than in a plane crash. Yet I dont hear anyone crying about taking cars off the road, or prohibiting people from walking down the street.

There was no risk to the passengers on any of these planes, even though the media is making it look otherwise.

-17 ( +2 / -19 )

they're only just considering I'm considering it too and I'm sitting here in my easy chair doesn't mean a damn thing

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The London case involved a severely inebriated pilot.

Why would a pilot drink so much,much more than is normal for anyone?

It points to some other underlying problem ......

8 ( +9 / -1 )

This is serious. In my country (Canada) regulations concerning pilots and alcohol consumption make Japan's look pitiful. Truly pitiful. And in spite of my choice of ANA for flights from Vancouver to Japan, I'll now seriously reconsider.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

It points to some other underlying problem ......

Agree, I hope JAL and ANA will provide staff and opportunities for "counselling" similar to some of the hospitals I know here in Japan. One of my friends is employed by hospitals to provide trauma counselling to staff, and it is a requirement for the staff to talk to her.  Talking helps but society/family life seem to discourage this and many turn to alcohol for relief to cope with the stresses.

It will be interesting to see why the pilot drank so much that night...

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Yubaru, you must have been the guy attending MADD meetings back in the day saying hey, the risk is way overblown, you should start policing drunk-bicycling.

Two of my best friends are pilots with US major airlines. We used to get blind drunk all the time in the '90s. But never, not once, even when they were flying Cessnas to build up mileage, did they ever drink the night before a flight.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

jcapanToday 07:38 am JST

Two of my best friends are pilots with US major airlines. We used to get blind drunk all the time in the '90s. But never, not once, even when they were flying Cessnas to build up mileage, did they ever drink the night before a flight.

I don't really now what is going on in North America or Europe but from experience, in Middle-east, Asia, it's a common practice today, pilots, cabin crew get drunk few hours before flying ... Often...

This needs to be addressed and dealt with seriously, there's no "going oveboard" on the subject.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Don’t limit it to just pilots. It should be extended to every commercial driver. Trains, buses, taxis, trucks, etc. I have seen truck drivers drinking chi-hi with their lunch.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I would love for anyone to share any information about either an ANA or JAL flight that was in danger or had any type of incident due to the pilot having alcohol in their blood or being drunk? Other than what was reported here?

Out of the literally millions of flights (combined) they have made over the years their track record alone SHOULD give them the benefit of the doubt to a degree!

Do they need to make adjustments and changes to their procedures? Yes, they do. Do they need to get stricter yes! But they don't need to be crucified either.

They have nearly 70,000 employees between them, and 19 people caused problems. Think about that!

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

Yubaru, you must have been the guy attending MADD meetings back in the day saying hey, the risk is way overblown, you should start policing drunk-bicycling.

This is the farthest thing from the truth!

However if there were only one or two drunk driving incidents over the course of 5 years, then hell yes I would say people are going overboard!

But you would sit here and tell us all that ZERO tolerance is the rule as you sip your martini looking through rose colored glasses right!

We all know the history of drunk driving is different, and I totally support MADD. I dont give a crap about the "American" pilots nor airlines, never fly with them and avoid them like the plague for far too many reasons.

JAL and ANA have a damn good track record.

-9 ( +0 / -9 )

Don’t limit it to just pilots. It should be extended to every commercial driver. Trains, buses, taxis, trucks, etc. I have seen truck drivers drinking chi-hi with their lunch.

I agree, and just about every taxi company in the country already has a zero tolerance policy in place andmany places the drivers have to take a breathalyzer before AND after their shifts.

They also have to perform the tests in front of a monitor, even a 0.001 reading would prevent them from going on their shift.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

@Yubaru

"... their track record alone SHOULD give them the benefit of the doubt to a degree!

"Pilot error causes (ANA) airliner to flip, fly upside down"

https://www.seattletimes.com/life/travel/pilot-error-causes-airliner-to-flip-fly-upside-down/

Other than what was reported here?

The problem is that these incidents are largely self-reported. ANA covered up the incident above until the govt revealed it 3 weeks later. We can't trust them to tell us the full truth.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Making sure pilots don't drink and fly seems like a no-brainer. I don't understand what you're complaining about

5 ( +6 / -1 )

They have nearly 70,000 employees between them, and 19 people caused problems. Think about that!

19 that we know of. It'd be 18 if not for a Heathrow bus driver. Let's return to how this was originally reported (Asahi):

The report said the 42-year-old co-pilot had a breath freshener spray among his belongings on the day he was to help navigate the flight from London's Heathrow Airport to Haneda Airport in Tokyo.

He was confirmed to have used the spray twice, once after a crew meeting at JAL's office at Heathrow and again after he boarded the aircraft, where he was ordered by a local security inspector to disembark for questioning by local police.

The co-pilot was found to be 10 times over the legal limit in Britain on Oct. 28 and was placed under arrest. The man took and passed an earlier in-house breathalyzer test by not blowing fully into the device.

However, the driver of the bus that drove the flight crew to their aircraft noticed the reek of alcohol on the co-pilot and contacted security officers.

In other words, someone clearly unfit for duty easily avoided JAL's lax rules, which indicates to me that he/his peers had routinely done so, no doubt for many years. In other words, there are probably 19 incidents per day, at Itami.

But you would sit here and tell us all that ZERO tolerance is the rule as you sip your martini looking through rose colored glasses right!

Actually it's craft beer and since I use public transit and spend my days attempting to teach undergraduates, my hangovers are unlikely to result in death (however bad their grammar). Listen, I've been flying ANA almost exclusively for many years and I'll continue to do so. But making light of criminal negligence just seems off the mark.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Would you want to fly in a plane that didn't pass its pre-flight safety check? Or with a company that didn't have any regulations for checking all functions before flights? Pilots' bodies and health status are just as important!

"no need to check this plane, it was built by professionals who trained for years to do what they do" sounds ridiculous but that seems to be the attitude concerning pilots in these airlines.

That things were allowed to slide and cut corners is very disconcerting and begs the question, what other safety measures were staff and pilots willing to overlook?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

“Drink or Fly” posters?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Are they sure they shouldn't form a panel first, to appoint a committee to discuss talking about it, first? This unusual step of nearly thinking about just doing seems a little fast for things here.

"The scandals could damage trust in Japan's air safety,"

Yup. It's not about the safety, it's about reputation and how others see Japan. It'll take two or three more Japanese pilots stopped abroad and making international news before they stop "eyeing" an inspection and actually do one. But then, as I said, they will have to discuss it first, then notify the Airlines a Week in advance.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I'd like to have all airlines show breathalyzer test results of cockpit crews on onboard movie screens before takeoff.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Who's going to inspect the bureaucrats' drinking?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Please at least make it sound like you're doing a sincere job & not some government agency trying to put a pacifier in our mouths.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

So, who will be first to be caught, a Japanese or foreign pilot?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

for all the truck accidents that occur on the highways here?

planes are far more complex than trucks, the recent LionAir crash shows that even the most experienced pilots can make mistakes, throw a good dose of alcohol into the mix and you've literally got 100s of peoples lives on the line.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

So, who will be first to be caught, a Japanese or foreign pilot?

who will be arrested or lose their job first, if any at all.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I'd like to have all airlines show breathalyzer test results of cockpit crews on onboard movie screens before takeoff. thats actually an excellent idea, they should show the results for the last 6 months, this way passengers can know if theyre being flown by a consistant drinker or not. My opinion pilots should be treated like Olympic athletes , get caught with any banned drugs in your system and its an automatic ban or suspension.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Pilots should have to pass a breathalyzer before being allowed on a plane. Zero tolerance.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Just set it to autopilot

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

To make it easier and fully understandable there should be a world wide set limit and a set of standards that ALL airline and pilots should adear to when it comes to alcohol, this way there can be no confusion over different limits in different countries.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"The scandals could damage trust in Japan's air safety," he said.

Opposed to the damaged motor industry, building construction and steel manufacturing scandals..

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The panel will discuss making alcohol tests mandatory and setting criteria for banning crew from boarding.

Okay, now what about during the flight? I wouldn't think it's beyond the realm of reason to assume that a more brazened pilot / flight attendant may get an occasional can of beer from the galley. Especially during one of those long transoceanic flights that lasts for hours on end.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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