Drunk Japanese Pilot Arrested Before Flight Consumed Nearly 10 Times Legal Alcohol Limit
By Sharelle Burt
If you remember the movie Flight which starred everyone’s play daddy Denzel Washington, then you can recall the fear you had when you watched him take several drinks before getting in the pilot’s seat of an aircraft.
Even though that was a Hollywood production, it very much happened in real life. A copilot flying for Japan Airlines was arrested at London’s Heathrow Airport after a test showed he had alcohol in his system. Taking the test just 50 minutes before takeoff, it revealed that the pilot had consumed nearly 189mg of alcohol.
That’s nearly ten times the legal alcohol limit. In the United Kingdom, the legal limit is 20 mg for pilots.
Katsutoshi Jitsukawa was taken into custody Sunday, thanks to the overly sensitive nose of a crew member. The crew member said the pilot reeked of alcohol and called the police. He had been scheduled to serve on a flight to Tokyo, which took off just over an hour late due to the incident. Thankfully, Jitsukawa was not aboard. After admitting to a serious night of drinking at his hotel bar and room, the 42-year old appeared in a London courtroom on Thursday and pleaded guilty to exceeding the alcohol limit.
Japanese airlines need to get a better grip on their drunken pilots. According to an Associated Press report, All Nippon Airways, a domestic airline, had to apologize after five flights were delayed thanks to a pilot that was suffering from an extreme hangover.
Since the incident, Japan Airlines has issued an apology, promising “immediate actions to prevent any future occurrence.” The airline also announced they would roll out a more sophisticated breathalyzer to monitor its pilots’ alcohol overseas later this month, according to NHK. The new system, which is already in place for Japanese domestic flights, will send test results back to Japan in real time. The Japan Transport Ministry has also promised to put a national standard for pilot blood-alcohol levels in place.
Previously, the country had allowed airlines to set individual thresholds.