A Japanese pilot bound for Haneda Tokyo was arrested at Heathrow Airport after it was revealed he was well over the legal alcohol limit for flying.
Detained by London police on 28 October, the 42-year-old pilot was found with 0.93 milligrams of alcohol per litre of breath, or more than 10 times the legal limit under UK Aviation Law.
According to Japan’s NHK, a bus driver, who was taking the Japan Airlines pilot from a terminal to the tarmac smelt alcohol on the pilot and alerted authorities.
The flight, JL44, eventually departed an hour late with two of its three flight crew.
The pilot later told the airline that he had drunk more than 1.5 litres of wine and 1.8 litres of beer in a hotel bar and his room the night before.
But a preflight test conducted by JAL had not detected alcohol on his breath.
Apologizing for the incident at a Tokyo press conference, the carrier said it believed the co-pilot rigged the test so he would pass, and promised to change its testing method, NHK reported.
According to the broadcaster, the Heathrow case is one of several examples of pilots at Japan’s major airlines missing a flight due to improper drinking.
In another recent case, an All Nippon Airways (ANA) pilot broke the carrier’s ban on drinking alcohol within 12 hours of flying and missed his domestic flight.
With this in mind, Japan’s Transport Ministry has announced it will create common standards for alcohol consumption in flight crew.
Until now, Japanese airlines have been allowed to set their own standards.
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