Japan Airlines pilot admits being 10 times over alcohol limit

Posted at 8:12 AM, Nov 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-02 09:12:44-04

(CNN) -- Nervous fliers, stop reading now.

A Japan Airlines pilot has admitted to failing a breath test shortly before he was due to fly from London Heathrow to Tokyo, the UK's Press Association reports.

Katsutoshi Jitsukawa, 42, had almost 10 times more than the legal permitted amount of alcohol in his bloodstream when he was arrested, the Metropolitan Police said.

At Uxbridge Magistrates' Court Thursday, the pilot pleaded guilty to being over the alcohol limit.

Japan Airlines flight JL44 was due to take off just 50 minutes after tests showed that First Officer Jitsukawa had 189 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood in his body.

The legal limit for pilots is 20 mg, while drivers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are allowed as much as 80 mg.

He was caught after the driver of a crew bus smelled alcohol and called the police, according to Japanese broadcaster NHK.

Jitsukawa was scheduled to fly a 244-seater Boeing 777 aircraft. He was remanded in custody and is due to be sentenced November 29 at Isleworth Crown Court.

The pilot admitted that he had drunk two bottles of wine and a pitcher of beer the night before the flight, NHK reported.

Japan Airlines has apologized for the incident. The airline said "safety remains our utmost priority" and it will "implement immediate actions to prevent any future occurrence."

The flight was eventually operated by the two remaining pilots and departed after more than an hour's delay.

Japan Airlines is not the only major Japanese airline forced to apologize for alcohol-related disruption, Agence France-Presse reported. In late October, All Nippon Airways said sorry after a pilot fell ill following a night of heavy drinking and caused delays to five domestic flights.

Nor is the issue confined to Japanese airlines. In June, experienced British Airways pilot Julian Monaghan was jailed for eight months after he was found to be more than four times over the alcohol limit before a flight from London Gatwick to Mauritius.