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37 cases of pilots found under influence before flights at 7 airlines since 2013: ministry

TOKYO -- An investigation by the transport ministry has confirmed that since 2013 there were 37 cases at seven Japanese airline companies in which pilots were found to be under the influence of alcohol before their flights.

    Following a series of pilot drinking scandals, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism on Nov. 20 held the first conference of an advisory panel of experts for introducing a standard for breath alcohol content and mandating airlines to conduct pre-flight checks on crews. The panel was established following the arrest of a Japan Airlines Co. (JAL) co-pilot by British police after alcohol was detected in his body beyond local limits on Oct. 29 Japan time.

    The ministry is scheduled to release the new strict standards for the consumption of alcohol by pilots before the end of the year.

    As a result of interviews with airline companies, the ministry received reports that there had been cases of excessive alcohol readings detected in pre-flight alcohol checks and other problems with seven carriers -- JAL, All Nippon Airways Co. (ANA), Star Flyer Inc., Japan Air Commuter Co., J-Air Co., ANA Wings Co. and Skymark Airlines Inc. In these instances, one flight was canceled and 19 others were delayed.

    Furthermore, transport minister Keiichi Ishii disclosed at a Nov. 20 press conference after a Cabinet meeting that he was considering imposing administrative punishments against JAL and ANA. Concerning the latter, its pilot was unable to fly after he became sick from drinking in Okinawa, causing delays to five flights on Oct. 25.

    (Japanese original by Norihito Hanamure, City News Department)

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