Ex-Alaskan Airlines Pilot Who Flew Drunk Sentenced in Orange County

David Arnston's blood-alcohol level was over double the federal limit for pilots when he was randomly tested after a flight in 2014.

What to Know

  • David Hans Arnston, a pilot from Alaska Airlines, flew from Portland, Oregon to Santa Ana while drunk in June 2014.
  • He failed a random drug and alcohol test at John Wayne Airport when two breathalyzer tests showed he had a blood alcohol content above .130.
  • Arnston later retired from Alaska Airlines and his pilot's license was revoked. Prosecutors said he had hidden an alcohol problem for years.

A former Alaska Airlines pilot was sentenced Wedhesday to a year in prison for flying a plane while under the influence of alcohol.

David Hans Arntson, 63, pleaded guilty in February. U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney sentenced Arntson to a year and one day behind bars.

Carney noted the defendant committed "a very dangerous offense," according to Thom Mrozek of the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Arntson flew twice on June 20, 2014, from San Diego International Airport to Portland and then from Portland to John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana.

When he touched down in Orange County, he was pulled aside for random drug and alcohol testing. His blood-alcohol level was 0.134 percent and 0.142 percent, according to two breathalyzer tests, Mrozek said.

The federal limit is 0.04 percent. Arntson later retired from the airline and his pilot's license was revoked.

In a motion prior to sentencing, prosecutors said that during his 20- year career the defendant struggled with alcoholism and concealed his problem, Mrozek said.

"Fortunately, he was finally caught, and the risk to passengers was stopped," U.S. Attorney Nicola T. Hanna said. "This case sends a message to everyone in the aviation industry that passenger safety is paramount, and we will aggressively investigate and prosecute any threat to that safety."

Arnston's attorney, Dyke Huish, previously said his client "has a long and distinguished career as a pilot and has flown thousands of flights without incident. And he has a perfect safety record, and as any good pilot who is responsible for the lives of people, he is willing to take responsibility and accept the consequences for his mistake."

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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