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ANA Wings searched over preflight drinking on same day JAL unit pilot found to be over limit

Kyodo

An All Nippon Airways Co. unit was searched Wednesday, the same day that a pilot with a Japan Airlines Co. unit was found to have consumed alcohol over the company’s limit, amid a growing scandal over drinking by Japanese airline pilots.

The on-site inspection of ANA Wings Co. was conducted just a day after the transport ministry began a three-day inspection of JAL.

Authorities are also expected to search Skymark Airlines Inc. in the near future.

A male pilot of ANA Wings called in sick on Oct. 25 after drinking the night before his early morning flight, causing delays to five flights in Okinawa by up to 58 minutes. He later quit at the instruction of ANA.

During the three-day search at the airline, the ministry will interview an ANA captain who drank with the unit’s pilot on the night in question.

On Nov. 16 ANA submitted a report to the ministry detailing measures to prevent a recurrence of the incident, including the introduction of more accurate Breathalyzer tests and the distribution of portable testing devices to all flight crew.

Also on Wednesday, a male pilot at JAL unit Japan Air Commuter Co., was found with blood alcohol levels over the company’s limit, delaying the departure of a flight between Kagoshima and Yakushima island by an hour.

“We take the matter seriously as it came at a time when strict drinking measures have been called for. We deeply apologize,” the company said.

Last month, a JAL co-pilot was arrested by British police after drinking until they were around 10 times over the country’s legal limit before a London-Tokyo flight on Oct. 28.

A Skymark flight was also delayed after alcohol was detected on the breath of the plane’s American pilot on Nov. 14.

In light of these scandals, the government has started discussing tighter alcohol consumption rules for aviation crew members.

Currently there is no Japanese law setting a legal limit on blood alcohol level for pilots, and breath tests are not even required. Airlines have their own rules and take voluntary steps to detect alcohol problems.