Following a series of flight delays caused by drunk or hungover pilots at Japanese carriers, Japan plans to make alcohol tests mandatory for pilots, transport ministry officials said on Wednesday.
The move comes after a Japan Airlines co-pilot was arrested in Britain last month shortly before a flight for being almost 10 times over the legal blood alcohol limit.
A transport ministry panel on Wednesday agreed a proposal to impose mandatory testing on airlines and breath alcohol limits of 0.09 milligrammes per litre.
The drink-drive limit is 0.15 milligrammes.
The official proposal is expected to be unveiled on Friday.
Under Japan’s current system, while plane crew members are banned from drinking within eight hours of working, there is no legal limit set and breath tests are not required.
The JAL co-pilot cleared an in-house breath test but aroused the suspicion of a bus driver taking him to the plane at Heathrow Airport.
London police said a test on the co-pilot taken 50 minutes before the flight’s scheduled departure revealed he was nearly 10 times over the limit.
He had reportedly consumed two bottles of wine and more than 1.8 litres (nearly four US pints) of beer over six hours on the night before the flight.
“We are certain (the in-house breath test) wasn’t conducted properly,” JAL Communications Chief, Muneaki Kitahara, told reporters at the time.
All Nippon Airways also revealed last month that a hungover pilot had caused multiple flight delays.