Japan Airlines pilot admits being nearly 10 times over alcohol limit

Katsutoshi Jitsukawa was arrested Sunday at Heathrow Airport for violating British aviation law

Japan will tighten rules for drinking by airplane staff, following the arrest in London of a Japan Airlines Co.co-pilot for failing a breath test shortly before a flight and recent alcohol problems in the aviation industry, Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Keiichi Ishii said Friday.

JAL said the pilot is suspected of improperly clearing the alcohol check, as the airline's breath-testing equipment did not detect a problem.

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

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

His aircraft - a Boeing 777, which holds up to 244 passengers - was delayed by more than an hour after his arrest.

The incident comes only a day after All Nippon Airways revealed a hung-over pilot had caused multiple flight delays.

Katsutoshi Jitsukawa, Japan Airlines first officer, was arrested at Heathrow Airport, London, for being under the influence of alcohol.

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Tests found the first officer had 189 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood in his system, nearly 10 times the 20 milligrams limit for a pilot.

JAL subsequently apologized for the breach and admitted that an in-house breath test was not conducted properly. He will be sentenced at Isleworth Crown Court on November 29.

Japan Airlines pilot failed his breath test an hour before the departure.

He was arrested on October 28 just 50 minutes before the plane was due to leave, with the flight finally taking off after a 69-minute delay.

The normal legal limit for driving in the United Kingdom would be 80 milligrams per liter.

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

Following the Japan Airlines incident, Japan's transport ministry issued a document directed at all Japanese airlines calling for the implementation of measures to control excessive drinking by flight crew.

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