Japan Airlines Co. said Thursday one of its pilots was temporarily detained by British police for drinking alcohol before a flight from London to Tokyo’s Haneda airport, leaving the company to operate the flight with two pilots rather than the normal three.
The case came to light a day after All Nippon Airways Co. apologized for five flight delays in Okinawa last week because a pilot became unwell after a night of drinking.
JAL said the level of alcohol in the pilot’s system was suspected to have exceeded the legal limit in Britain.
Long-haul routes connecting Japan with the United States or Europe are normally operated by three pilots in the cockpit — two captains and a copilot — so that they can take breaks in turn.
Under its internal rules, JAL limits two-pilot flights to routes of up to 12 hours. From Haneda, it takes about 12 hours and 30 minutes to fly to London, but 11 hours and 45 minutes for the return flight.
For the London-Haneda flight, the airline operates the route with three pilots aboard although the flying time is under 12 hours.
In May, a JAL flight attendant was caught sneaking a beer into a plane restroom and drinking it there in mid-flight.
The transport ministry has been requiring airlines to take measures to prevent alcohol-related incidents.
ANA apologizes for flight delays by pilot’s drinking
All — Kyodo News+