Japanese airline bosses take pay cut over 'shame' of drunk pilot


‘Catastrophic’ risk: judge jails drunk JAL pilot who was 10 times over limit

Judge Phillip Matthews warned the consequences for passengers could have been "catastrophic" if the co-pilot had taken charge of the 7pm flight.

Jitsukawa admitted one count of preparing for an aviation function while over the limit at at an earlier hearing on November 1.

President Yuji Akasaka will take a 20% pay cut as punishment for Jitsukawa, who failed a breath test just 50 minutes before the flight from Heathrow was due to take off with him in the cockpit.

The 42-year-old pilot was caught by security staff smelling of alcohol and acting drunk as he was set for take-off on the flight to Tokyo on October 28.

Tests found the 42-year-old first officer had 189 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood in his system, nearly 10 times the 20 milligrams limit for a pilot. Matthews also said Jitsukawa had put his colleagues in a hard position of covering up his drunkenness or reporting him.

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The judge suggested Jitsukawa put colleagues in a position of either performing a "cover up" or reporting him to superiors.

When he did not return after some time, security staff went to check on him and found him in the plane's washroom trying to get the alcohol smell off his mouth.

He was then found in the plane toilet gargling with mouthwash.

Jitsukawa was clean-shaven and in a grey tracksuit as he appeared on a videolink from Wandsworth prison.

The Boeing 777 aircraft he was due to fly, which can hold up to 244 passengers, eventually took off 69 minutes late.

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After he was challenged, he said he had drank whisky the night before but had already passed a breathalyser test.

Bill Emlyn Jones, mitigating, said the sole carer of three young children had dreamed of being a pilot since he was a boy - but the realities of long-haul travel had destroyed this.

Japan Airlines deputy general manager in London, Yasuhiro Kikuchi, said: "As an organisation we are going to work together to prevent this happening again".

The pilot feels "abject disgrace" and wishes to apologise to the airline, passengers and his family "for the shame he had brought upon them", he added.

A number of incidents involving drinking by airline pilots have come to light recently in Japan, prompting the government to consider implementing tighter alcohol consumption rules for crew.

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