Pilot arrested was nearly 10 times over legal alcohol limit — less than an hour before takeoff

A Japan Airlines (JAL) pilot was arrested in London on Sunday after it was discovered that his blood-alcohol content was nearly ten times over the legal limit.

Katsutoshi Jitsukawa, 42, was taken into custody at Heathrow Airport after a breath test revealed that he had 189 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood — a BAC of 0.189% — in his system, which far exceeds the 20 mg (0.02%) legal limit for a pilot in Britain, the BBC reports.

For comparison, the legal limit for drivers in England and the U.S. is 80 mg per 100 ml of blood, a BAC of 0.08%. 

Authorities were first notified about the drunken pilot by the driver of a crew bus, who smelled alcohol on Jitsukawa and reported it.

Japan Today reports that the pilot had consumed two bottles of wine and five cans of beer over a six-hour period starting at 6 p.m. on Saturday, the night before JAL's Flight 44 was set to depart London for Tokyo's Haneda International Airport at 7 p.m.  The flight was delayed one hour and 9 minutes due to the incident.

According to JAL, Jitsukawa may have improperly cleared its standard alcohol check, as the airline's breath-testing equipment did not detect any issues.

Jitsukawa admitted to the improper conduct at Uxbridge Magistrates' Court in west London on Thursday and will remain in custody until he is sentenced on Nov. 29.

JAL issued an apology, promising it will "implement immediate actions to prevent any future occurrence."

"Safety remains our utmost priority," the company added.

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