Japan budget airline Air Do promoted trainee to pilot despite bungled landing: Government

TOKYO (AFP) - Japanese transport authorities on Friday ordered a budget airline to boost safety standards after it promoted a trainee to a full-blown pilot despite worries over his ability.

Air Do, which links Tokyo to cities in Japan's northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido in a tie-up with major carrier All Nippon Airways, was also found lax on aircraft maintenance check-ups.

The government said a co-pilot on training at Air Do bungled a landing at Chitose Airport in Hokkaido on Sept 11 by coming in too quickly. The instructor gave a good mark, paving the way for promotion, but when the company examined flight data, the error became apparent. They nevertheless let the trainee's promotion stand.

"The company's training systems for flight crews is not functioning properly," the Transport Ministry said in its order to Air Do. The ministry also noted Air Do was found to have put off necessary regular check-ups on aircraft.

The company was ordered to submit measures for improvement by Jan 30.

No immediate comment or details were available from Air Do.

The incident came to light as Japan grapples with a growing shortage of qualified pilots.

Other Japanese budget airlines cancelled flights earlier this year because they did not have enough people to fly their planes.

The United Nations' aviation agency warned two years ago that demand for pilots is expected to double by 2030, with the shortage of crew particularly acute in Asia, Africa and Latin America, where markets are expanding rapidly.