A Japanese pilot found to be more than nine times over the legal alcohol limit before a scheduled flight from London Heathrow in October has been sentenced to 10 months in prison, police said Thursday.
Katsutoshi Jitsukawa, 42, an employee of flag carrier Japan Airlines, was scheduled to fly from Heathrow to Tokyo on October 28 at 6:50 p.m. local time, but failed a breath test shortly before takeoff.
The test showed Jitsukawa had 189 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood in his body. The legal limit for pilots is 20 mg, while drivers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are allowed as much as 80 mg.
Alarm was raised after a driver of a crew bus smelled alcohol and called the police, who conducted the test, according to Japanese broadcaster NHK.
Jitsukawa said he had drunk two bottles of wine and a pitcher of beer the night before the flight, NHK reported.
He was remanded in custody and later pleaded guilty to the charge of performing an aviation function when his ability was impaired through alcohol. Jitsukawa had been scheduled to fly a 244-seater Boeing 777 aircraft.
Reacting to the sentencing, Inspector of Aviation Policing Iain Goble, condemned the "serious" offense that could have had "catastrophic" consequences.
"This conviction reflects he displayed not only total disregard for the safety of all the passengers and staff on his flight, but also the wider public," Goble said.
Following Jitsukawa's arrest, Japan Airlines apologized for the incident and said "safety remains our utmost priority," adding it will "implement immediate actions to prevent any future occurrence."