Japan Airlines tightens alcohol rules for pilots after Heathrow arrest

According to the JAL report the company interviewed 13 individuals including the captains who had been in contact with the co-pilot prior to the flight

Katsutoshi Jitsukawa was arrested at Heathrow last month after he was found to have 189mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood in his system, nearly 10 times the 20mg limit for a pilot under British law.

Reports in Japan said Mr Jitsukawa managed to cheat on an airline breath test before his arrest.

Japan now bans pilots from drinking in the eight hours before they fly - the same as in the U.S. The U.S., however, also sets a bloodstream alcohol limit for pilots that is half the threshold for drivers.

The new measures also come after some 12 Japan Airlines flights were delayed due to intoxicated pilots.

The latest report follows news that a Japan Airlines pilot admitted being more than 10 times over the legal alcohol limit at London Heathrow airport in October.

However, JAL's manual does not anticipate a change in the number of pilots on duty, making the airline conclude that it made an incorrect decision that the flight could be handled by two.

Jitsukawa's arrest, and evidence that the problem is more widespread than previously thought, could prompt the transport ministry to impose mandatory testing and alcohol limits in line with those in force in Europe and the US. "The Company does not condone the individual's actions, as safety remains our utmost priority".

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According to the BBC, Japan Airlines has had 19 incidents since August a year ago in which pilots failed the carrier's own alcohol tests, with 12 flights being delayed as a result (other pilots were found for the other seven).

The series of measures will include new breathalyser systems at overseas airports and introducing penalties "for flight crew violating the regulated alcohol concentration level", the airline said.

They will be introduced at other airports from Sunday onwards.

The airline has extended the drinking ban for pilots to 24 hours prior to flying, and some ground staff will now be subject to breathalyzer tests, according to a statement from the airline.

Other airlines have also had recent trouble with intoxicated pilots, the BBC said.

JAL pilots have failed 19 breathalyzer tests since August 2017.

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