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Japanese pilot is arrested for being drunk ahead of flight from Heathrow

02 November 2018

The airline said the co-pilot was arrested Sunday at Heathrow Airport for violating British aviation law.

Japan Airlines Co said Thursday one of its pilots was arrested by British police for exceeding the alcohol limit before a flight from London to Tokyo, leaving the airline to operate the flight with two pilots rather than the normal three.

The legal limit for on-duty is 20mg, making him 10 times over the alcohol limit.

In an interview conducted by JAL just after his release, the copilot said he consumed more than two bottles of wine and more than 1.8 liters of beer by himself at a bar and in a hotel room where he stayed for about six hours until 20 hours before the flight.

The flight was operated by a Boeing 777 aircraft which holds up to 244 passengers.

Following the Japan Airlines incident, Japan's transport ministry issued a document directed at all Japanese airlines calling for the implementation of measures to control excessive drinking by flight crew.

Japan Airlines pilot failed his breath test an hour before the departure.

The apology came a day after another major Japanese airline, All Nippon Airways, apologised for causing delays to five domestic flights after a pilot became unwell due to heavy drinking the night before.

When tested for alcohol after suspicions were aroused, police found he had 189mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood in his system.

In a statement JAL said: "The Company does not condone the individual's actions, as safety remains our utmost priority".

The normal legal limit for driving in the United Kingdom would be 80 milligrams per liter. Before boarding the bus, the copilot and the two captains took a company-administered breath test at JAL's Heathrow office. He is expected to remain in custody until his sentencing on November 29. It will also prohibit pilots from drinking alcohol 24 hours prior to flights, compared to the current 12 hours.

The flight was delayed for about an hour and had to proceed with two pilots instead of the usual three.

Japanese pilot is arrested for being drunk ahead of flight from Heathrow