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Feds: Former pilot flew drunk, 1 flight from SD

Posted: 9:31 PM, Jan 21, 2016
Updated: 2016-01-22 07:35:36Z

LOS ANGELES -- A former Alaska Airlines pilot has been arrested on federal charges that allege he piloted two flights while under the influence of alcohol.

The first flight originated in San Diego and was headed to Portland, Oregon. The plane then took a second flight from Portland, Oregon to John Wayne Airport in Orange County.

David Hans Arntson, 60, was taken into custody Wednesday morning and arraigned the same day in federal court in Los Angeles. He was released on a $25,000 bond and is scheduled to appear for an arraignment on Feb. 10.

The United States Attorney's Office released the following information about the arrest:

According to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday in United States District Court, Arntson was the pilot of two Alaska Airlines flights on June 20, 2014. The first flight was from San Diego International Airport to Portland, Oregon. He then flew a plane from Portland, Oregon, to John Wayne Airport in Orange County.
       
After landing at John Wayne Airport, Arntson was selected for random drug and alcohol testing by Alaska Airlines. A technician for Alaska Airlines performed two tests on Arntson and received results that the pilot had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.134 percent and 0.142 percent. After the technician informed Alaska Airlines of the test results, it removed Arntson from all safety-sensitive duties.
       
According to federal law, a person operating a “common carrier,” such as a commercial airliner, is presumed to be under the influence of alcohol when his or her blood alcohol content is 0.10 percent or higher.
       
Arntson’s co-pilot on the two flights on June 20 remembered seeing the drug tester when the plane landed at John Wayne Airport and recalled Arntson say “I bet it’s for me,” according to the complaint.
       
Following the June 20, 2014, incident, Arntson retired from Alaska Airlines.
       
“Those in command of passenger jets, or any other form of public transportation, have an obligation to serve the public in the safest and most responsible way possible,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “We cannot and will not tolerate those who violate the trust of their passengers by endangering lives.”
       
A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
       
The charge of operating a common carrier while under the influence of alcohol or drugs carries a statutory maximum penalty of 15 years in federal prison.
       
The investigation into Arntson was conducted by the United States Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General.