Pilot jailed for trying to fly plane out of Heathrow while nine times over the alcohol limit 1 year ago

Pilot jailed for trying to fly plane out of Heathrow while nine times over the alcohol limit

Katsutoshi Jitsukawa has been jailed for ten months

A Japanese pilot has been jailed for ten months after admitting he was nine times over the alcohol limit while attempting to fly a passenger plane.

The 42-year-old first officer was arrested at Heathrow airport on October 28th, 50 minutes before he was due to pilot Japan Airlines flight JL44 to Tokyo.

The Boeing 777 holds up to 244 passengers.

According to Japanese broadcaster NHK, the driver of a crew bus alert authorities after they smelt alcohol on Jitsukawa.

The flight then took off after a 69 minute delay.

Tests showed that Jitsukawa had 189mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood in his system. The legal limit for working pilots is 20mg, meaning that he was almost ten times over the limit.

To put that in perspective, the drink-driving limit in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is 80mg – meaning he was over double that.

On November 1st, he pleaded guilty to being over the alcohol limit at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court, and had remained in custody ahead of sentencing.

He has now been jailed for ten months.

Judge Phillip Matthews described him as "very intoxicated".

"You are an experienced pilot but you had clearly been drinking for a long period up to a time shortly before you were due to go into that plane," the judge continued.

"Most important is the safety of all persons on board that very long-haul flight, potentially 12 hours or more. Their safety was put at risk by your inebriation and drunkenness.

"The prospect of you taking over control of that aircraft is too appalling to contemplate. The potential consequences for those on board was catastrophic."

Earlier this month, the Home Office announced a review of licensing laws in domestic airport departure lounges, which could lead to a crackdown on early-morning drinking for passengers.