Adverse weather, mechanical faults and industrial action are the usual culprits for delaying a flight but in more recent months alcohol consumption has been to blame on more than one occasion. Japan Airlines has announced it’s introducing a breathalyser system after one of its pilots was found to be nine times over the legal UK alcohol limit and was arrested at Heathrow Airport earlier this month.
Over the past year there have been 19 reported situations where Japan Airline pilots have failed alcohol tests, causing 12 of the flights to be delayed. Alternative pilots were available to operate the other 7 flights.
Two other pilots from different airlines have also been caught flying over the legal alcohol limit: a British Airways pilot was jailed after drinking three double vodkas before turning up for his shift and a pilot from India has been banned from flying for three years.
In Japan there is no set limit for the amount of alcohol consumed by pilots, and it is the airlines responsibility to assign and monitor the alcohol limit. The legal limit for pilots in the UK is 20mg and the driving limit is 35mg.
Japan Airlines new system has already been implemented at Heathrow Airport and smaller domestic airports across Japan and it is expected the breathalyser system will be rolled across other airports on 19th November 2018.
A spokesperson for Japan Airlines has said the airlines pilots will be banned from consuming alcohol in the 24-hour period prior to a flight.
This news comes after talks were announced about restricting the times people can consume alcohol at airports in the UK. Between 2013 and 2017 there has been a 400% rise in disruptive passenger behaviour with a total of 417 reported incidents taking place in 2017, you can read more here.