Crime-committing pilots to be barred from flying planes in Japan

Kyodo News

Posted at Oct 01 2016 01:50 PM

A boy takes pictures at Narita airport Terminal 1 in Narita near Tokyo on March 25, 2016. Reuters

TOKYO - The transport ministry says it plans to bar pilots involved in certain crimes from flying airplanes in Japan for a certain period.

The step, which comes after the captain of a business jet was found to have had a hand in a gold-smuggling case last year, targets pilots of small private jets. The government is increasingly opening airports for such flights in an effort to increase the country's business competitiveness.

The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry says it will ban the use of airports by pilots who have been given prison sentences for their role in the smuggling of illegal drugs, large amounts of undeclared cash or precious metals.

The ban will be effective for two years after the end of prison or suspended terms.

The 26 state-run airports across Japan including the nation's busiest in Tokyo's Haneda are expected to revise rules on the use of their facilities in line with the decision.

The government plans to request the same measures at the 65 airports managed by local governments and five airports run by airport companies, including Narita airport near Tokyo, the country's largest international gateway.

Pilots cannot fly airplanes in Japan without obtaining certification of their skills and health under the Civil Aeronautics Law.

The law allows for revocation of the skill certification if a pilot is guilty of risking air safety such as engaging in reckless piloting or ignoring an air controller's instructions. It does not, however, cover statutory crimes committed by pilots involving airport facilities.

In June, the Tokyo police arrested Toshihiko Sasae, the pilot of a private jet, as well as gangsters on suspicion of attempting to smuggle about 110 kilograms of gold on a flight that arrived at Okinawa's Naha airport from Macao last December. The gold was found by customs authorities at the airport.