Japan Airlines pilot arrested in United Kingdom for drinking before flight

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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.

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

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said that Jitsukawa pleaded guilty yesterday to exceeding the alcohol limit at Uxbridge magistrates' court.

A test later revealed that Jitsukawa had 189mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, almost 10 times the U.K.'s legal limit of 20 mg for pilots, according to the BBC.

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

According to the the company, the copilot and two captains were supposed to operate JAL Flight 44 scheduled to depart Heathrow at 7 p.m. Sunday local time.

The drink-drive limit in England is 80 milligrams.

Drug and alcohol testing is now required by many regulators and the European Union earlier this year extended mandatory alcohol testing to pilots and cabin crew of all airlines flying into its jurisdiction.

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Under the current Japanese system, aviation crew members are prohibited from drinking within eight hours of starting working but there is no law or regulation that sets a legal limit for alcohol consumption.

Julian Monaghan drank three double vodkas in his hotel room on an empty stomach before he was due on board a flight from Gatwick Airport to Mauritius on January 18.

JAL said from now on it will involve airport staff in alcohol checks rather than getting pilots to test each other.

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

"We are certain (the in-house breath test) wasn't conducted properly", JAL communications chief Muneaki Kitahara told reporters Thursday. He was ordered to be detained until November 29.

The incident came only a day after another Japanese carrier reported multiple delays blamed on a hung-over pilot who called in sick.

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

Japan Airlines, in turn, issued an apology for the incident.

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