Japan to tighten rules after pilot's arrest over drinking

Japan to tighten rules after pilot's arrest over drinking

A Japan Airlines co-pilot who was arrested after failing a breath test shortly before a London to Tokyo flight pleaded guilty Thursday to being nearly 10 times over the legal limit for alcohol.

Japan Airlines officials said they believed the pilot had tampered with the test to hide his drinking.

He appeared in court in London on Thursday and pleaded guilty to exceeding the alcohol limit, according to the BBC.

JAL withheld the co-pilot's identify, but London's Metropolitan Police identified him as 42-year-old Katsutoshi Jitsukawa.

Jitsukawa was charged with performing an aviation function with alcohol in his blood over the legal limit.

The co-pilot acknowledged he drank about two bottles of wine and a pitcher of beer the previous night, NHK said.

The Boeing 777 aircraft took off after a 69-minute delay.

Japan Airlines has apologised for the incident, saying that "safety remains our utmost priority" and it will "implement immediate actions to prevent any future occurrence".

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The Daily Mail reported that although the plane bound for Tokyo's Haneda airport was delayed by only one hour and nine minutes, the airline had to make the hard decision of flying with only two pilots, rather than the customary three.

Japan Airlines general manager Toshinori Shin apologised for the incident in which the pilot failed a breath test before the flight.

The pilot is due to be sentenced at Isleworth Crown Court on 29 November.

A test later revealed that Jitsukawa had 189mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, almost 10 times the U.K.'s legal limit of 20 mg for pilots, according to the BBC.

Under Japan's Road Traffic Law, drivers are considered to be driving under the influence if they have an alcohol-per-liter-of-breath reading of 0.15 milligrams or higher.

At a press conference Thursday in Tokyo, JAL Director and Senior Management Executive Officer Toshinori Shin said, "We feel responsible for failing to detect [the copilot's inebriation] through our company's test and that this was reported by a third party".

About two hours earlier, the co-pilot passed a breath test conducted by JAL along with two pilots.

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