Drunk pilot jailed for trying to fly from Heathrow while nine times over alcohol limit

'The prospect of you taking over control of that aircraft is too appalling to contemplate,' judge says

Jon Sharman
Thursday 29 November 2018 16:36 GMT
Katsutoshi Jitsukawa, who has been jailed for drunkenly attempting to fly a jet
Katsutoshi Jitsukawa, who has been jailed for drunkenly attempting to fly a jet (Metropolitan Police)

A pilot has been jailed after he prepared to fly a passenger jet from Heathrow Airport while nine times over the alcohol limit.

First officer Katsutoshi Jitsukawa, 42, was jailed for 10 months at Isleworth Crown Court over the incident in October.

He was arrested at the airport after he failed a breathalyser test 50 minutes before the Japan Airlines (JAL) flight JL44 to Tokyo was due to take off with him in the cockpit.

Judge Phillip Matthews described the co-pilot as “very intoxicated” ahead of the 28 October flight.

“You are an experienced pilot, but you had clearly been drinking for a long period up to a time shortly before you were due to go into that plane,” the judge said.

“Most important is the safety of all persons on board that very long-haul flight, potentially 12 hours or more.

“Their safety was put at risk by your inebriation and drunkenness.”

He added: “The prospect of you taking over control of that aircraft is too appalling to contemplate.

“The potential consequences for those on board was catastrophic.”

The legal alcohol limit for pilots is 20mg per 100ml of blood, and Jitsukawa's blood contained some 189mg.

For drivers, the limit is 80mg per 100ml of blood.

The moment of Jitsukawa’s arrest on 28 October (Metropolitan Police)

Inspector Iain Goble, of the Metropolitan Police’s aviation policing department, said: “This is an incredibly serious offence as Jitsukawa, a member of the airline crew, had responsibility for performing a critical role.

“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.

“Clearly, the consequences could potentially have been catastrophic had security staff and police not intervened and he had continued to perform his role on the aircraft in the state he was.

“I would like to praise the security staff who acted quickly and professionally upon suspecting that Jitsukawa was not fit to fly and alerted police.”

Additional reporting by PA

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