Japan Airlines pilot arrested in United Kingdom for drinking before flight

Roman Schwartz
November 2, 2018

A Japan Airlines co-pilot arrested after failing a breath test shortly before a London to Tokyo flight has pleaded guilty to being nearly 10 times over the legal limit for alcohol.

Singapore Airlines also hit the news after one of its pilots failed a blood alcohol test in Melbourne and prompted the cancellation of two flights.

A spokesman for the police said a test on the man, who was due to fly as co-pilot, revealed 189 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood - nearly 10 times the legal limit of 20 milligrams for a pilot.

A driver of a crew bus alerted police after smelling alcohol on Jitsukawa's breath, Japanese broadcaster NHK reported.

Katsutoshi Jitsukawa, 42, was only found out when a bus driver a Heathrow airport observed he smelled of alcohol ahead of the flight to Tokyo.

The normal legal limit for driving in the United Kingdom would be 80 milligrams per liter.

The pilot later pleaded guilty before a court to being over the legal limit, and is expected to be sentenced on November 29.

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The incident came to light after All Nippon Airways Co. on Wednesday apologized for five flight delays in Okinawa last week because a pilot was not in a fit state to work following a night of drinking.

'The company sincerely apologises to the passengers and to all affected by the employee's actions, ' JAL said in the press release.

He was arrested on October 28 just 50 minutes before the plane was due to leave, with the flight finally taking off after a 69-minute delay.

The male pilot in his 40s called in sick after a night of drinking on the remote resort island of Ishigaki in southern Okinawa prefecture, the company said.

Under its internal rules, JAL limits two-pilot flights to routes of up to 12 hours.

"Although we conduct regular or unannounced safety inspections for airlines, detailed drinking regulations are left to the discretion of each company", said an official at the transport ministry's aviation safety and security department.

According to NHK, the first pre-flight test did not detect alcohol on Jitsukawa's breath.

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