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The Japan Airlines pilot arrested for being nearly 10x over the legal alcohol limit has been sentenced to 10 months in jail.
Pilot Katsutoshi Jitsukawa, who was arrested in October trying to board a Japan Airlines flight from Heathrow to Tokyo, said he had been “drinking heavily” the previous night, admitting to having had two bottles of wine and a pitcher of beer. His consumption put Jitsukawa’s blood alcohol level at 189mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, well above the stated limit for pilots of 20mg.
The pilot, arrested less than an hour before he was to co-pilot the Boeing 777, pleaded guilty to “one charge of performing an aviation function when his ability was impaired through alcohol,” according to Newsweek. Jitsukawa later admitted to feeling an “abject disgrace” about the incident and apologized for “the shame” he brought upon the airline, the passengers and his family.
Presiding judge Phillip Matthews told the disgraced pilot that, “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.” He added that, “The prospect of you taking over control of that aircraft is too appalling to contemplate. The potential consequences for those on board was catastrophic.”
In addition to jail time, Jitsukawa is now out of a job.
Japan Airlines pilots have failed breathalyzer tests 19 times in 15 months. Yasuhiro Kikuchi, Japan Airlines’ vice president who was present at the trial, said that the airline will “work together to prevent this happening again.” Newsweek reports that, “Japan Airlines has said it will introduce a new testing system at foreign airport to prevent a repeat of the incident.” However, Japanese law does not currently mandate a blood alcohol limit for pilots.
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