Ex-Pilot Who Flew Alaska Airlines Flight to O.C. While Drunk Sentenced to 1 Year in Prison
A former Alaska Airlines pilot who admitted to flying a plane to John Wayne Airport while intoxicated in 2014 was sentenced to a year and one day in federal prison, officials announced on Wednesday.
In addition to the prison sentence, a judge also ordered 63-year-old David Hans Arntson to pay a $10,000 fine, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The Newport Beach man pleaded guilty to a felony count in a deal filed in February. The maximum sentence was 15 years in prison.
Arnston, who served as a captain with Alaska Airlines for more than 20 years, submitted to a random drug and alcohol testing on June 20, 2014, the agency said.
He had just piloted two flights: First from San Diego International Airport to Portland, Oregon, then another from Portland to John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana. A total of about 240 passengers were aboard the Boeing 737s, authorities said.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, an Alaska Airlines technician conducted two breathalyzer tests upon arriving in Santa Ana. The tests indicated Arnston had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.134 percent and 0.142 percent—nearly three times the legal limit for pilots, the agency said.
The technician alerted the airline, which took off Arnston from safety-sensitive duties.
Arnston then allegedly drove to a hospital for additional tests, which confirmed that his blood alcohol level “substantially” exceeded the legal limit, prosecutors said.
The man retired after incident, and the Federal Aviation Administration revoked his permit to pilot a plane, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Arnston hid his alcoholism for “at least a substantial portion” of his stint as a captain with Alaska Airlines, according to authorities.
“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.”