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JAL says mechanic switched with colleague to slip through alcohol test

TOKYO -- Japan Airlines Co. (JAL) disclosed on March 7 that a mechanic with its subsidiary JAL Engineering Co. got past an alcohol test by asking a colleague to take the test in his place.

The airline said the mechanic, who is in his 40s, turned up for work at Fukuoka Airport at about 5:20 a.m. on Jan. 19. Prior to an official alcohol test, testing equipment that workers can use voluntarily detected alcohol on the mechanic's breath, so the mechanic asked a colleague to take the official test in his place. The mechanic had been drinking with a separate colleague until about 11 p.m. the night before.

Internal JAL rules set in place from Jan. 15 require mechanics to take alcohol tests. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism also plans to set standards on drinking for aircraft mechanics and cabin crew members as early as this month.

It also came to light that a 31-year-old male co-pilot for another JAL subsidiary, J-AIR Corp., boarded two flights without taking preflight alcohol tests on March 5. The co-pilot was quoted as saying that he forgot to take the test and had not been drinking the previous day.

The co-pilot turned up at Itami Airport that straddles the western Japan prefectures of Osaka and Hyogo, at about 12:10 p.m. He took two flights between Itami and Oki Airport in Shimane Prefecture, also in western Japan. When he returned to Itami Airport, he took an alcohol breath test, but no alcohol was detected, according to the company.

(Japanese original by Norihiko Hanamure, City News Department)

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