Taiwan airline pilots to face alcohol tests

CAA plan follows two incidents with drunk pilots

(By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Following incidents with pilots testing positive for alcohol, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) announced Friday that breathalyzer tests would become compulsory for the pilots of all Taiwanese airlines beginning in June.

Over the past few months, Far Eastern Air Transport (FAT) and Mandarin Airlines each found a pilot of theirs with unacceptably high blood alcohol concentrations just before they went on duty.

The CAA invited representatives from the airlines for discussions Friday, and the consensus was that alcohol tests should be imposed on 100 percent of the pilots beginning in early June, though some details still remained to be worked out, cable station TVBS reported.

Taiwan’s Aircraft Flight Operation Regulations set the maximum legal limit at 0.1 milligram of alcohol per liter of breath.

FAT fired a pilot in March who registered 0.52 mg/L just before he was to fly a plane from Kaohsiung to Magong in Penghu County. The airline fired the pilot, surnamed Yeh, and started proceedings to file a claim for damages.

Earlier this month, a similar incident happened before a flight by Mandarin Airlines, an affiliate of top carrier China Airlines (CAL), from Taichung to Hong Kong. The pilot, a citizen of El Salvador, registered alcohol levels of 0.3 mg/L and 0.28 mg/L during the two tests he was submitted to before takeoff.

CAL then already agreed to impose alcohol tests on all of its more than 1,000 pilots.

Airlines could face fines ranging from NT$600,000 (US$19,780) to NT$3 million (US$98,900) if management was found to be negligent, while the individual pilots could be fined between NT$60,000 and NT$300,000.