TOKYO: Japan’s two biggest airlines admitted that subsidiaries allowed employees to cheat on written driving exams, according to a statement and local media, the latest embarrassing episode for the country’s aviation sector.

Japan Airlines (JAL) said that 11 employees from two of its subsidiaries “engaged in the malpractice of answering questions while looking at textbooks” between 2022 and 2024.

Their driving permits have been returned to authorities, JAL said, adding that five test supervisors were also involved in the cheating.

Bloomberg reported that the workers who cheated had driven baggage cars and catering vehicles at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.

The misconduct is “a compliance violation and a serious act that can threaten to undermine the flight safety”, JAL said in a statement released on Tuesday (Feb 20).

Similar instances of wrongdoing were also found to have taken place at two subsidiaries of rival ANA, local media said.

A total of 82 test-takers from the ANA subsidiaries had been erroneously assured by supervisors that they were allowed to peek at textbooks, according to the Yomiuri daily.

Safety scrutiny of the Japanese aviation industry is intensifying after a litany of collisions and mishaps that made global headlines this year.

The most serious was a near-catastrophic collision at Haneda airport between a Japan Airlines aircraft and a smaller coast guard plane on Jan 2.

All 379 people on board the JAL Airbus escaped just before the aircraft was engulfed in flames, but five of the six people on the smaller aircraft died.

Also in January, snowy conditions caused the wing tip of a Korean Air plane to strike an empty Cathay Pacific airliner while taxiing at an airport in Hokkaido.

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