Feds: Alaska Airlines Pilot Flew Drunk—Twice

Blood alcohol readings were way over the limit
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 22, 2016 3:59 AM CST
An Alaska Airlines jet takes off at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in SeaTac, Wash.   (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

(Newser) – An Alaska Airlines pilot was too drunk to drive, let alone fly, when he piloted two flights on June 20, 2014, according to federal prosecutors. David Hans Arntson—who was immediately removed from "safety sensitive duties" after flunking a breath test and later retired from the airline—was arrested at his Newport Beach, Calif., home on Wednesday, KOMO reports. Prosecutors say that after piloting a flight from San Diego to Portland, Ore., and a flight from Portland to Orange County's John Wayne Airport, he was selected for a random drug and alcohol test and was well over the legal limit for alcohol. His co-pilot says that when Arntson saw the Alaska Airlines test technician, he said "I bet it's for me."

According to a Justice Department press release, the technician gave Arntson two tests 15 minutes apart, with blood alcohol results of 0.134% and 0.142%. Federal authorities consider pilots intoxicated with a reading of 0.10% or higher, and the FAA's limit is 0.04%, reports the Los Angeles Times. For drivers, the limit is 0.08% in every state, with enhanced penalties beginning around 0.15%. Arntson, 60, faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted. The Times reports that he told investigators that he didn't have a drinking problem and had merely sipped a single beer with dinner the night before the flights. (An airBaltic co-pilot was caught with a blood alcohol level seven times the legal limit.)

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