ANA Flight Gets Cancelled As Pilot Forgets License


An ANA pilot has ruined Christmas for some passengers by leaving his license at home, causing the flight he was expected to pilot to be canceled outright.

Three different flights were affected by the forgetfulness of the pilot. Photo: Getty Images

What are the details?

We have all forgotten important things. Our keys, children’s birthdays and even last-minute Christmas shopping. But one airline pilot has forgotten something a little more important; his aviation license. Unlike driving a car without a license, you can’t just pop home to pick it up.

Here is the story according to Japan Times.

An ANA pilot in his 60s was flying a regular ANA trip with 259 passengers to Kukuoka from Haneda, Tokyo. ANA Flight 259 was on time when the pilot realized something awful; he was missing his all-important commercial aviation license.

ANA Holdings A320neo
ANA had a pilot fly without his license on his person. Photo: Airbus

He rang up his superiors and explained that he was flying without his license and that he actually left it back at home in Tokyo.

As the aircraft was in flight and making good time to its destination, the airline decided to let it continue and land normally, with the 200 or so passengers none the wiser.


The problem is that, by law, pilots are supposed to carry their licenses when they fly the aircraft. More importantly, the co-pilot and pilot are supposed to check each other before take off. Reportedly, ANA is focusing its investigation on this matter at this time.

Without a license, the pilot couldn’t operate his next flight, ANA Flight 428 from Fukuoka to Itami in Osaka. Without a pilot, the entire flight was canceled and forced 129 passengers to find alternative travel.


And the trouble didn’t stop there. A further ongoing flight from Itami to Sendai (ANA Flight 739) was delayed as ANA raced to find a pilot with the right paperwork. What a mess!

ANA needs to review its pre-flight ID checks. Photo: Tom Boon / Simple Flying

What was the airline’s response?

At this stage, the airline has yet to reply to Simple Flying’s inquiries.

On one hand, you have to admit that forgetting your essential documents as a pilot is pretty silly. If you forget something as simple as that, then it does lead to questioning what else you might be forgetting when flying a plane with 200 passengers on board.

In addition to this, what type of failure of ‘pre-flight checking’ involves the copilot and pilot to check each other? Obviously, in this case, this check never happened and the pilots were allowed to continue.

But that leads me to a bigger question: why is a paper-based physical license required? Obviously, you need something to prevent a stranger from rocking up and flying the plane (some sort of digital ID could be used) but canceling further flights because the pilot didn’t have the papers (which for some reason couldn’t be provided by the airline) seems mighty odd indeed.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments!