Ex-Alaska Airlines pilot begins prison sentence for drunk flying

A former Alaska Airlines pilot pleaded guilty to drunk flying in February. Photo courtesy Alaska Airlines

July 28 (UPI) — A former Alaska Airlines pilot began his 1-year prison sentence this week after pleading guilty to flying while intoxicated.

David Hans Arntson, 63, of Newport Beach, Calif., had previously pleaded guilty to one felony count of operating a common carrier while under the influence. He will also pay a $10,000 fine as part of a plea deal he made with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California in February.

In 2014, Arntson flew a plane from Portland, Ore., to John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Calif. After landing, Alaska Airlines randomly selected him for a drug and alcohol test. Two breathalyzer tests showed he had blood alcohol concentrations of 0.134 percent and 0.142 percent.

“Those percentages were well above the federal limit of 0.04 percent for pilots,” the plea agreement stated.

At the time, Arntson said he had not been drinking and had only a few sips of beer the night before the morning flight, the Orange County Register reported. He also said he was taking antibiotics. But prosecutors said that was a lie.

“This defendant was at the controls during hundreds of flights carrying innumerable passengers — undoubtedly under the influence of alcohol during many of those trips,” U.S. Attorney Nicola T. Hanna said in a statement. “Fortunately, he was finally caught, and the risk to passengers was stopped.”


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