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The former British Airways pilot that was charged with being intoxicated in the cockpit of a commercial aircraft has pleaded guilty.

In April, Julian Monaghan was arrested in the cockpit of a British Airways 777 for having a blood alcohol level that was four times the legal limit for pilots.

Monaghan, 49, boarded the aircraft that he was supposed to pilot on January 18 at London’s Gatwick Airport (LGW). Cabin crew smelt alcohol on Monaghan just minutes before the airplane was scheduled to depart — they notified authorities that they suspected he was intoxicated. The Boeing 777 was headed to Mauritius and had 300 passengers onboard.

Although Monaghan admitted he was over the legal limit, his lawyer Emelyn Jones still defended his actions. She said that the pilot had only had a vodka and coke at 10:30am to help put himself to sleep before the evening flight, which departed at 8:20pm. Pilots in the UK have to abstain from alcohol at least eight hours before each flight.

Jones said that because he hadn’t drank eight hours before the flight, he was abiding by airline rules. Still, after a breath test, it was found that Monaghan had 52mg of alcohol in his breath, and the legal limit for pilots is 9mg. Monaghan was also subjected to a blood test, which found 86mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood. Once you’re over 80mg per 100ml, you’d be drunk driving (in England and Wales) if you were found behind the wheel of a car. The alcohol limit for driving under the influence in most of Europe is 50mg per 100ml.

According to Jones, Monaghan was “appalled, astonished and horrified to find he was over the limit.”

Monaghan joined British Airways in 2001 but was fired from the company after the incident. A British Airways spokeswoman told The Telegraph:

“We have taken this matter extremely seriously, and will continue to assist the police with their inquiries.  The safety and security of our customers and crew is always our top priority… Julian Monaghan no longer works for the airline.”

Monaghan will be sentenced next week.

H/T: The Telegraph

Featured image by Paul Evans / Flickr.

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