Japan Airlines has been in the news recently over some alcohol related incidents for their crew members.
The first major incident involved a Japan Airlines pilot who attempted to pilot a flight from London to Tokyo while ten times over the legal alcohol limit for pilots. He ended up being jailed in the UK for 10 months.
Given Japanese work culture, this is something that was taken very seriously, and the president of Japan Airlines took a temporary 20% pay cut as a result of this.
Then there was another incident in the news, this time of a Japan Airlines flight attendant who allegedly drank during a flight. Apparently there are no laws in place in Japan as to flight attendant drinking regulations, though once again this was taken very seriously.
Well, now there’s another alcohol story from a Japanese airline, and in this case it even involves a cover-up.
The Japan Times reports on the results of an internal probe that caused a flight to be delayed significantly last week. This allegedly involved two pilots of ANA Wings, which is a subsidiary of ANA.
The two pilots were scheduled to fly from Osaka to Miyazaki at 7:10AM last Thursday. The airline has a ban on pilots drinking within 12 hours of departure. The night before the flight, the pilots went to a restaurant together where they consumed alcoholic drinks. One pilot stopped drinking at 7PM, while the other pilot only stopped drinking at 9:30PM, nearly 2.5 hours later than he should have.
A breathalyzer given to the pilot before the flight found that he was above the legal limit, meaning they needed a replacement crew. During the probe, both pilots initially said that they only drank until 7PM the night before, but it later became clear that this was simply because one pilot asked his colleague to cover-up the situation.
It’s not entirely clear what the pilot’s blood alcohol level was. Unlike the Japan Airlines pilot departing London, this guy may not have actually been “drunk,” but was rather just over the limit for pilots.
I get pilots deal with a lot of stress, and I feel bad for the situations they sometimes get into. At the same time, they have important jobs and are responsible for lots of peoples’ lives, so these situations have to be taken seriously.
So not only is it unfortunate that one of the pilots chose to drink later than he should have, but I find it equally disturbing (if not more disturbing) that the other pilot tried to cover-up for him.
(Tip of the hat to Live and Let’s Fly)