The co-pilot of a Japan Airlines flight was arrested at Heathrow Airport, London, after it was discovered he was drnk minutes before his flight to Tokyo.
A breath test showed that he was almost 10 times over Britain’s legal alcohol limit for pilots.
The 42-year-old co-pilot, Katsutoshi Jitsukawa, was said to have admitted consuming two bottles of wine and five cans of beer hours before he was due for the flight on Wednesday.
Katsuroshi was arrested after the driver of the bus conceying the flight crew to the airport suspected that something was wrong with the co-pilot as he could smell his breath. The driver reportedly alerted aithorities immediately they arrived.
At the Uxbridge Magistrates Court on Thursday, the co-pilot pleaded guilty to exceeding the legal alcohol limit, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said. He was detained until his sentencing on November 29.
Japan Airlines apologized for the pilot’s actions and said it would take the violations seriously.
“Safety remains our utmost priority,” the airline said in a statement. “We will implement immediate actions to prevent any future occurrence and to regain our customer’s trust.”
According to the Kyodo News agency, before the bus driver alerted the authorities at Heathrow, the pilot had passed the airline’s own breath test.
Because of the pilot’s drunkenness, the flight was delayed for more than an hour, but eventually took off with two pilots instead of the usual three.
Japan’s transport minister has said he will tighten rules about alcohol consumption by flight crews after a series of incidents in the industry.
“We will use all possible means to ensure flight safety,” the minister, Keiichi Ishii, told reporters on Friday.