Too drunk to fly

Sometimes we see pieces about pilots being “over the limit” without there being clear explanation of the manner in which this is over the limit to fly, not to drive. The flying limit being about a half pint of standard beer or so. A proper dalliance with the stewardesses the night before sorta level.

But this?

A pilot has admitted being almost 10 times over the alcohol limit shortly before a flight from Heathrow, police said.

Katsutoshi Jitsukawa was arrested at the airport after failing a breath test just 50 minutes before Japan Airlines (JAL) flight JL44 to Tokyo was due to take off with him in the cockpit.

The Japanese broadcaster NHK reported that the driver of a crew bus alerted police after smelling alcohol on the pilot. The flight was operated by a Boeing 777 aircraft, which holds up to 244 passengers.

A Metropolitan police spokesman said Jitsukawa pleaded guilty to exceeding the alcohol limit at Uxbridge magistrates court on Thursday.

Tests revealed he had 189mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood in his system, almost 10 times the 20mg limit for a pilot. The drink-drive limit in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is 80mg.

Yes, that’s too drunk to fly.

16 thoughts on “Too drunk to fly”

  1. The only job that permits that level of alcohol in one’s system is President of the European Commission.

  2. From what I hear, pretty well all the important stuff on these big modern planes is automated. Take off & climb, the cruise phase, descent & landing. The only things left for the pilot are driving it round the peri track & onto the runway & seducing the stews. So too drunk for the former, by any calibration, but about right for the latter

  3. Few years ago I sat getting drunk in Wanchai with a Cathay pilot. He told me they basically don’t have to do anything because it’s all controlled by a computer. They’re just there in case anything goes wrong.

    The biggest danger would have been him taxiing it to the runway. He would have been sober by the time it came to landing it in Japan.

  4. Slightly OT, but the news programmes here in Tokyo are fascinating. There was a car crash in Ginza. The biggest scandal yesterday was 13 people arrested for littering at the Shibuya Halloween party (which I managed to catch the beginning of in person). A couple of days ago, Abe and some other politician trading polite insults in the Diet.

    Can anyone with more Japan experience than me confirm if this is really as exciting as it gets?

  5. @BiG, there are natural disasters fairly regularly, but apart from the occasionally serial killer who keeps heads in his freezer, and Abe’s attempts to change the constitution not much else in the way of major news. Next year should be interesting as the Emperor is abidacibg Andy there’s also the buld up for the 2020 Olympics.

    BTW where in Japan are you and how long are you here for?

  6. Surely a flight to Japan is long enough to sober up and welcome a hangover. Flying while you’re rough as a bears arse is probably even more difficult than when you’re still drunk

  7. And to follow up from DocBud’s most excellent pendantry…

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

    If it was being operated by the aircraft, why do they need the pilot, sober or otherwise?

  8. Can anyone with more Japan experience than me confirm if this is really as exciting as it gets?

    No diverse and vibrant daily stabbings? How dull.

  9. In my experience, alcohol effect limits for a Jap are at least 3 times the equivalent for a European, so this guy was off his fvcking nut.

    All my old Jap colleagues could only take about 1/2 pint before going bright pink and smiling inanely

  10. Uncle is a retired 777 captain.

    He says that the pilots are watching the weather radar constantly and steering round storms to keep the flight as smooth as possible.

    He’s ex-RAF (missed the war by a year and was youngest pilot on the Berlin airlift) and ex-BA so very smoooth…

  11. ‘The flight was operated by a Boeing 777 aircraft…’

    If the flight was being operated by an aeroplane, the state of the pilot was immaterial.

    A Boeing 777 was being operated on the flight… perhaps they meant.

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