A Japan Airlines pilot who was arrested shortly before a flight for being drunk had almost 10 times the legal alcohol limit for a pilot, London police said Thursday.
The incident came only a day after another Japanese carrier reported multiple delays blamed on a hung-over pilot who called in sick.
JAL executives told reporters in Japan that the co-pilot cleared an in-house breath test but aroused the suspicion of a bus driver taking him to the plane from Heathrow Airport on Sunday.
The co-pilot, identified as Katsutoshi Jitsukawa, 42, was arrested by British police and required to undergo a blood test that confirmed those results.
“We are certain (the in-house breath test) wasn’t conducted properly,” JAL communications chief Muneaki Kitahara told reporters.
A spokesman for the London police said a test on the co-pilot taken 50 minutes before the flight’s scheduled departure revealed 189 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood in his system — almost 10 times the 20-milligramme limit for a pilot.
The drink-drive limit in England is 80 milligrams.
The plane departed London after a delay of 69 minutes.
“The company sincerely apologises to the passengers and to all affected by the employee’s actions,” JAL said in a press release.
The incident came just a day after All Nippon Airways revealed a hung-over pilot had caused multiple flight delays.
The male pilot in his 40s called in sick after a night of drinking on the remote resort island of Ishigaki in southern Okinawa prefecture, the company said.
The last-minute sickie forced the airline to delay five flights linking Okinawa island and smaller regional islands, affecting 619 passengers.
Following the two incidents, the transport ministry urged airline companies to strictly comply with rules on drinking.