Copilot peeing in public cancels JAL flight from Honolulu

Of all the reasons to have your flight canceled, I’m pretty sure this one is high on the “no frikkin way!” list.

The copilot of JAL flight 75 from Honolulu to Narita was arrested by local police for urinating in a park. The copilot had consumed a bottle of wine and 5 bottles of beer, when the urge “to go” was clearly greater than the urge to find an appropriate place to relive himself.

When a police officer saw him, the copilot was arrested and delivered to the police station. He was then detained for two nights before being released after paying a $25 fine.

JAL issued a statement declaring that they “deeply apologize for causing inconvenience to the passengers”.

My main concern is why a copilot is consuming so much alcohol. The only upside is that he was arrested on Tuesday, and his flight was not scheduled to depart till Thursday, leaving him plenty of time to get the alcohol out of his system.

You can see the actual flight status, and its cancellation over at The passengers had to be rebooked on other flights. If I were a passenger on this plane, I’d be mighty pissed (pardon the pun). I’ve heard a lot of reasons for a cancellation or delay, but a urinating copilot is a first.

Why you don’t stand near the jet engine on the tarmac

Ever look out the side of your airplane while on the ground and see those red semicircles painted around the jet engine? Those are there for a reason. If the engine powers up quickly and someone is nearby, someone (or something) could easily get sucked in. Those red regions are the “no walk” zone.

But that’s what happened at Los Angeles International Airport yesterday when a Japan Airlines 747 was pushing back in preparation for its departure to Tokyo. As the engines powered up, a metal baggage container got too close to the engine and was swept up and lodged inside of the cowling. Oops.

Nobody was hurt in the incident, but I’m sure it’s a huge inconvenience for the passengers and airline who were displaced.

JAL’s CEO takes bus to work and eats at the cafeteria (even when the press aren’t following him)

Every couple of days here in Minneapolis, Northwest CEO Doug Steenland is on the television telling the thousands on Northwest employees living in the Twin Cities not to worry about losing their jobs after the merger with Delta is completed. Judging by the number of strikes and employee complaints NW has experienced over the past few years, I’d say no one takes him too seriously. If you you headed a company that performed so poorly and you still made Steenland’s salary (before perks), you wouldn’t be worried about anything or anyone.

Perhaps top execs at US airlines could learn something from JAL CEO Haruka Nishimatsu. After major lay-offs three years ago, Nishimatsu cut all his perks and then slashed his salary. In 2007, he made $90,000. A tidy sum, but much less than many of JAL’s pilots make. He takes public transit to work and eats lunch next to the plebes in the cafeteria.

Perhaps you could chalk up Nishimatsu’s approach to cultural differences between the US and Japan. But his explanation of the rational behind cutting his own perks and salary makes perfect sense to me.

“We in Japan learned during the bubble economy that businesses who pursue money first fail. The business world has lost sight of this basic tenet of business ethics.”

Is this ethical approach working? JAL is faring reasonably well. Compared to US airlines, it is quite successful. So you can be ethical and successful? Amazing.