A Japan Airlines pilot who attempted to fly a commercial plane from England's Heathrow Airport outside London despite being intoxicated, was sentenced Thursday to 10 months in jail. Before handing down the sentence, the presiding Judge Phillip Matthews at the Isleworth Crown Court condemned Katsutoshi Jitsukawa for his irresponsible actions which could have put the lives of the passengers, who were headed to Tokyo, in danger.

“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 said, the Telegraph reported. "Most important is the safety of all persons on board that very long-haul flight, potentially 12 hours or more, their safety was put at risk by your inebriation and drunkenness. The prospect of you taking over control of that aircraft is too appalling to contemplate. The potential consequences for those on board was catastrophic.”

Jitsukawa, 42, was arrested Oct. 28, 50 minutes before he was scheduled to take off at 7 p.m. local time (2 p.m. EST) from the airport on an aircraft with several passengers onboard. He was stopped by airport security staff member after he smelt strongly of alcohol and had “glazed eyes." Another staff member later noticed the pilot had “difficulty standing straight”.

When the security staff challenged him, Jitsukawa defended himself, saying he had whisky the previous day but it had already passed through his system. He also lied about passing a breathalyzer test and being cleared to fly the plane. The pilot then said he had to grab his coat from the plane. When he did not return after some time, security staff went to check on him and found him in the plane’s washroom trying to get the alcohol smell off his mouth.

“He (the security manager) went back on the plane to find the defendant in the toilet rinsing and gargling his mouth with mouthwash,” the prosecutor said at the trial.

The pilot was removed from the aircraft and the police was called. Meanwhile, a preliminary breathalyzer test that he was forced to take found he had 189 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood in his system, which was almost 10 times the allowed alcohol limit for pilots in the United Kingdom – 20 milligrams. The limit is much stricter for pilots than for motorists, which is set at 80 milligrams in Britain.

When authorities arrived 40 minutes later, they found him “swinging” and struggling to stand straight.

Japan Airlines A Japanese pilot attempted to fly a commercial plane from Heathrow Airport, England, despite being intoxicated. In this photo, a Japan Airlines (JAL) jet liner taxis on the tarmac while another takes off at Tokyo International Airport, Aug. 7, 2008. Photo: Getty Images/ Yoshikazu Tsuno

In a similar incident, a Thailand-bound Air India flight was called back to the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, India, just a few minutes after takeoff Nov. 11, after it was discovered that one of the plane’s pilots had skipped the breathalyzer test.

“The flight was scheduled for a 1:45 p.m. [local time, 3:15 a.m. EST] departure and the pilots should have undergone the Breathalyzer test about an hour earlier. While the commander took the test, the first officer skipped it,” one source close to the matter said about the incident. "Before the departure, the commander asked whether the copilot had carried out the Breathalyzer to which he replied in positive. But it emerged that he hadn't. The flight was called back.”