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JAL pilot, 10 times over alcohol limit, jailed for 10 months in UK

52 Comments
By Toshifumi Kitamura

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Hey I don’t like putting non violent or evil people in jail necessarily, but my god is this irresponsible of you.

How dare you drive hundreds of people while drunk! And how insane that your whole team covered for you.

10 ( +14 / -4 )

How many JAL pilots are drunk?? Looks like the stories are just multiplying day after day!

12 ( +14 / -2 )

Good to hear.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

is this a uniquely Japanese thing? What is the rate of drinking penalties for Japanese pilots compared to their counterparts from other countries? It seems like it happens a lot here but then again this is a local news..

0 ( +4 / -4 )

The prevalence of drunk pilots is higher than you would imagine.

It is happening every day, it just doesn't get caught.

I used to run a training program using simulators. I saved the most important lesson for the final day of the course. We'd have a little celebration/graduation party, a few drinks, then I'd have the student get in the simulator and try to do some of the things we had been practicing. Nobody was able to handle the scenarios anymore. Every single person failed when they had alcohol in their system. I tried to illustrate to them the extreme danger of drinking and flying. If you're drunk or on sedatives, take the day off. They can find another crew or reschedule the flight, you only die once.

21 ( +21 / -0 )

This is really scary. I'm flying out to vancouver in 3 weeks.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

And I am flying to Japan next month.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

So, all airlines need to be revaluating their pilot checks and making sure that pilots are not being overworked!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

So the airport security noticed that the co-pilot was drunk, but his captain and crew didn't.

I wonder if they would have noticed if he had been non-Japanese?

( According to the BBC, the shuttle bus driver smelt alcohol when the co-pilot entered the bus).

4 ( +6 / -2 )

The scarry thing about this is the company's equipment failed to register a problem, his co workers failed to register a problem, it took a bus driver to point out that this pilot was smashed. Had this happened in Japan nothing would have happened. I also noticed it took les than a month to charge and convict. And no suspended sentence.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

I’m quite sure this is not the first time this pilot has flown under the influence of alcohol. His claim of stress from long haul flights is a very weak defense. Serving ten months in prison does seem like a fair punishment, but it should also come with a lengthy suspension from flying. I hope his time in prison is enough for him to dry out and get over his stress.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

10 months in an English prison for a little Japanese pilot??? Ever been in an English prison? Full of gangs, drugs and violence. A week to teach him a lesson, but 10 months? The gangs will beat him to a pulp, then force him to get family members to transfer money to them.

-13 ( +1 / -14 )

LOL, a Japanese pilot in a U.K. Prison ? After that he's never gonna touch another drink in his life !

0 ( +4 / -4 )

I think 10 months is little time, he was responsible for 244 lives. I am thankful for the people who arrested him

11 ( +11 / -0 )

@goodlucktoyou:

What were you in for, and which prison?

10 ( +10 / -0 )

I wonder if the crew were covering for each other? Who usually test the pilots?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Dango bongToday 07:12 am JST

is this a uniquely Japanese thing?

Definitely not, not sure about Europe and Americas, but in Middle East and Asia it's quite common ... And most of crews laugh about it.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

A just sentence for the crime. Hopefully this case will act as a deterrent

5 ( +5 / -0 )

What this report doesn't mention, but is noted in every UK report I've read, is the presence outside the court of a senior JAL executive who denied that other crew covered up for him, which is nonsense.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

A punishment that fits the crime. He'd have got fined or suspended sentence in Japan.

In Japan, they'll give you ten months for a single joint even if you don't fly a plane. Be warned.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

"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 knows that Jitsukawa was lying when he said he stopped drinking at midnight. To have the blood alcohol level Jitsukawa had at 6 pm the following day he must have been drinking that day. Had he stopped drinking at midnight his blood alcohol level would have been much lower and he wouldn't have stunk of booze.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The legal limit for pilots should be zero. I guess that more Canadian pilots will be flying "high" now that our intelligent government has legalized marijuana....i despair

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

"not sure about Europe and Americas"

There you have it then! And there are 2018 cases too!!!

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/drunk-piloting-how-common-is-it-really/

Japan neither invent the drunken pilot, nor have a monopoly over them!!!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I also agree with Luddite's comment and feel the UK judge missed an opportunity to mention the responsibility of the crew and JAL somehow. In addition to the pilot getting a jail term, if I was the judge and could, I would recommend cancelling JAL's license for NRT to London route for a year.  

When the law was changed in Canada, to make bars and other liquor establishments responsible for protecting their customers from driving drunk, they would lose their licenses, I noticed much more awareness from customers and staff about not driving drunk. Of course JAL did not serve the liquor but has a responsibility to keep their flights safe, and the crew must feel comfortable to mention issues they see are not correct.  

JAL needs to update their training immediately and let the public know. Until the company acknowledges, I will not feel like flying JAL.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I guess that more Canadian pilots will be flying "high" now that our intelligent government has legalized marijuana....i despair

No, need to despair. Canadian airlines already have taken the responsibility of protecting the public and made it clear to staff (not just pilots) of a a zero tolerance for being high on the job.

https://www.thestar.com/news/cannabis/2018/10/15/airlines-impose-cannabis-ban-on-pilots-and-cabin-crew.html

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Any word on whether or not he will be able to keep his job?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Forget abot the Co-pilot. His career in aviation is over. JCAB will pull his license the moment he gets out. What I want to know is what happens to the 2 Captains who (I VERY strongly suspect) knew he was unfit to fly and were going to sneak him on the plane to sleep it off. What happens to them determines how seriously JCAB will deal with this issue.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Shocking negligence, though I am surprised his lawyers did not try and invent some sort of Alcohol flush reaction syndrome, and tried a longwided explanation on an accumulation of acetaldehyde, a metabolic byproduct of the catabolic metabolism of alcohol, and is caused by an acetaldehyde dehydrogenase deficiency

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Jessie, I think we were all surprised by that too

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Good, good, and GOOD! In Japan he would not see any jailtime, and in all likelihood would just face a pay cut or at worst a suspension, unless it is a repeat offense, and then at worst he'd be fired. If anyone needs proof this is not the first case recently, and not the last, and more and more are coming to light with JAL in particular, prompting some to call for national laws against pilots drinking, as other nations have. JAL instead is just going to "make people understand".

So, thank god he was caught in Britain and can sober up for the better part of a year behind bars, because again, here it would be a slap on the wrist and he could just go home and drink it off.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

My, my, my....what a fall from grace for a once great airline. Over the years their level of service has fallen, the seats have gotten smaller and many more delayed flights than in the past. Now their pilots are drunk. Lesson for today: don't fly JAL.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

@Dango bong Today  07:12 am JST is this a uniquely Japanese thing? What is the rate of drinking penalties for Japanese pilots compared to their counterparts from other countries? It seems like it happens a lot here but then again this is a local news..

I have read there is a high level of alcoholism in pilots and doctors worldwide, probably in other occupations too.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It is long past time for the govt to admit there is an endemic alcohol problem among Japanese white collar workers and devote some resources to education, intervention and rehab. But we can't have anyone embarrassed, so we'll just look the other way...until we can't.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Sounds like he got off fairly easy. What's the value of potentially hundreds of human lives, possibly including your own? Hope that sentence's message got home to any other pilot or person doing that type of thing.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

At least LOL, a Japanese pilot in a U.K. Prison ? After that he's never gonna touch another drink in his life.

At least he will get a Christmas Dinner.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

GOOD. I hope he won't be allowed to work as a pilot after serving his sentence. Other crew members must be investigated too because it is higly possible that this isn't the first time he came to work drunk.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

At least he will get a Christmas Dinner.

Do they serve KFC in UK prisons?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Japan Airlines pilot was jailed for 10 months on Thursday after being caught 10 times over the alcohol limit shortly before take-off

what no suspended sentence!? oops sorry forgot this is the UK not Japan.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

10 months in an English prison for a little Japanese pilot??? Ever been in an English prison? Full of gangs, drugs and violence. A week to teach him a lesson, but 10 months? The gangs will beat him to a pulp, then force him to get family members to transfer money to them.

It seems not much different from an American prison.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

> krustytheclownToday  11:43 am JST

Any word on whether or not he will be able to keep his job?

He has already lost it.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"I've known a lotta people who messed their life up with alcohol,but I've never known anyone who improved their life with alcohol."

Heard this quote on a Youtube video the other day. So very valid and true.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

"I've known a lotta people who messed their life up with alcohol,but I've never known anyone who improved their life with alcohol."

My life has been vastly enhanced, enriched & improved through alcohol. That's because I'm a wine vendor.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

My life has been vastly enhanced, enriched & improved through alcohol. That's because I'm a wine vendor.

So, your pockets may well have been enriched,but when it comes to the drinking of the poison,that's a different story altogether, whether you acknowledge it or not.Being hammered doesn't improve,enhance or enrich anyone.And the 3.3 million alcohol related deaths worldwide in 2018, according to the WHO attests to that.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Osaka_doug, the judge pointed out that he put colleagues in a position of either covering up or reporting him. As they didn’t report him the judge left it to the intelligence of his audience to draw the logical conclusion, but noteworthy that was not reported here either. Apologies and denials in the face of the evidence don’t wash in the UK.

BBC reports there have been 19 cases where Japan Airlines pilots have failed the company breath test since August 2017.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Being hammered doesn't improve,enhance or enrich anyone.

I have to admit I'm not a wine vendor, but I'll argue that the vast majority of people do have their lives enhanced by having a few drinks now and again. I just got back from a fine night at the local izakaya, feel quite euphoric. Airline pilots should probably refrain during work though, or at least stick to Malibu & pineapple.

BBC reports there have been 19 cases where Japan Airlines pilots have failed the company breath test since August 2017

I wonder if flying planes isn't quite the rocket surgery that their status lends us to believe?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I'll argue that the vast majority of people do have their lives enhanced by having a few drinks now and again.

I would agree. I only drink 3-4 times a year, but I usually have a great time when I do, and it's an enjoyable experience.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I only drink 3-4 times a year, but I usually have a great time when I do, and it's an enjoyable experience.

Did you mean 34 times a year?

and it's an enjoyable experience.

You make it all sound so....boring :)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Did you mean 34 times a year?

No, three to four. I enjoy drinking, but it messes with my training, and it's hard on my body. So I stick to drinking in moderation.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Fair play to you. Everything is good in moderation, including moderation.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Probably a bit late for him to star in the Christmas prison pantomime, but I'm sure that hey could find him a toe as an extra.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

 I only drink 3-4 times a year, but I usually have a great time when I do, and it's an enjoyable experience.

Drinking 3 to 4 times a year is not really drinking and as you know,it's bad for the body which was why you drink so infrequently. Hence I'm talking 'bout drinkers who drink.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What I want to know is what happens to the 2 Captains who (I VERY strongly suspect) knew he was unfit to fly and were going to sneak him on the plane to sleep it off. What happens to them determines how seriously JCAB will deal with this issue.

There's no question that they knew he was unfit to fly. He didn't just have alcohol in his blood: he was intoxicated. The bus driver noticed it, and so did the security officers who were called in. They reported that he smelled of alcohol, had glazed eyes, and appeared drunk. When the police arrived 40 minutes later, they said he was having difficulty standing straight.

The judge was having none of him. He stated that Jitsukawa was drinking up to a short time before the flight and was "very intoxicated".

JAL mishandled this; at the very least the other pilots should have been suspended immediately, but actually they should have been fired. And so should any pilot who fails to put the safety of the aircraft and the passengers first.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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