Co-pilot arrested after tests found alcohol levels 10 times over legal limit

Co-pilot arrested after tests found alcohol levels 10 times over legal limit

First Officer Katsutoshi Jitsukawa was scheduled to fly a Boeing 777 jet from London to Tokyo last Sunday.

A Japan Airlines pilot was on Thursday arrested shortly prior to his scheduled flight from London to Tokyo as alcohol in his bloodstream surpassed the legally permitted levels by nearly ten-folds.

However, he was arrested after a breath test indicated he was in breach of United Kingdom aviation laws.

The driver of a crew bus at Heathrow smelled alcohol on Jitsukawa and reported it to police, Japan's NHK public television said.

In comments quoted by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, the Japanese transport minister has indicated the government will toughen regulations on alcohol consumption by pilots in the wake of the incident.

A blood test 50 minutes before the flight's schedule departure confirmed the man was over the limit, with police saying the test revealed 189 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milligrams of blood in his system.

The drink-drive limit in England is 80 milligrams.

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The plane departed London after a delay of 69 minutes.

At the Uxbridge Magistrates Court on Thursday, the co-pilot pleaded guilty to exceeding the legal alcohol limit, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said.

Sentencing for the pilot is set for November 29.

In a statement, Japan Airlines said: "The company does not condone the individual's actions and takes this violation seriously, as safety remains our utmost priority".

Jitsukawa acknowledged he had drunk about two bottles of wine and a pitcher of beer the previous night, NHK said.

JAL said the flight was delayed more than an hour and had to be operated by the remaining two pilots.