A British Airways pilot faces at least nine months in jail after he admitted being drunk in the cockpit of a passenger jet before a long-haul flight to Mauritius.
Julian Monaghan, 49, was four times the legal limit for flight crew when he turned up for work
He was found to have 86mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood in his system – the legal limit for a pilot is 20mg.
Monaghan, who no longer works as a pilot, admitted reporting for duty when his level of alcohol was over the proscribed limit.
He had been due to be part of a crew flying a Boeing 777 to Mauritius, Crawley Magistrates’ Court heard.
The 12-hour flight had been scheduled to leave at 20:20 GMT, but the plane was left waiting at the gate while airline staff looked for a third pilot. It eventually took off just before 23:00.
Defending Monaghan, Emlyn Jones told the court his client would not have had to take up the role of pilot until three-and-a-half hours into the flight.
He added that his client was only “a fraction” over the alcohol limit for drivers of 80mg per 100ml of blood.
Rejecting this, chair of the bench Dr David Wiggins said: “I have to say the comparison to drink-driving is somewhat spurious in these circumstances.
“A pilot in a Boeing 777 is somewhat different from driving on the road, so we are completely ignoring that comment.”
Dr Wiggins told the disgraced pilot: “I think you need to prepare yourself there is a very, very high chance that it will be an immediate custodial sentence.”
Monaghan, who gave his address as care of a solicitors’ firm, is due to be sentenced at Lewes Crown Court on 12 June.
In a statement, a British Airways spokeswoman said: “This behaviour is completely unacceptable and not what we expect from our highly professional fleet of pilots.
“The safety and security of our customers and colleagues is always our top priority.”