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HOME  > Past issues  > 2012 July 18 - 24  > LCCs’ entry into Japan’s aviation industry causes concern over safety
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2012 July 18 - 24 [POLITICS]

LCCs’ entry into Japan’s aviation industry causes concern over safety

July 19, 2012
This is the first year for low-cost carriers (LCC) to enter the Japanese aviation industry. While the national government is trying to enhance the competitiveness of domestic airlines through deregulation, concern over air safety is rising among the public.

Japan’s pilots’ unions have requested the transport ministry to stop the deregulation of aviation standards, arguing that easing the regulations would seriously affect the safety of air transportation.

The ministry’s main deregulation measures are as follows: Simulators may be used in conducting certification examinations of pilots instead of actual tests in flight; and refueling a plane while passengers are boarding and deboarding is permitted without the previous mandatory presence of maintenance staff.

Peach Aviation, the first LCC established in Japan, has insisted, “Japan’s aviation restrictions are stricter than that of other countries. Relaxing the regulations is needed to boost international competitiveness.” The airline company has set a 30 minute-time limit for an airplane to take off after landing.

The unions argue that using a simulator in qualifying examinations will have a negative effect on flight safety because it is entirely different from actually piloting a plane. As to refueling during boarding and deboarding, they stated, “There is a danger that heated engines or brakes could catch fire from evaporated gasoline while refueling,” and “the absence of ground crew members, who have always checked the quality and loading quantity of fuel, will leave everything in the hands of the fuel suppliers.”

In 2007, a China Airlines plane caught fire at Naha Airport, Okinawa Prefecture, as some fuel leaked into its brakes. Fortunately, a member of the ground crew noticed it right away, and the fire was put out before getting out of control.

A secretary general of the Japan Federation of Aviation Workers’ Unions (Kokuren) said, “Promoting competition and enhancing safety are incompatible. Pushing forward the competition policy will cause workers much trouble.”
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