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Airline pilot to spend one year in prison for flying while intoxicated

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A former Alaska Airlines pilot will spend a year behind bars for flying intoxicated — at three times over the legal limit — in June 2014.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in central California announced that former Alaska Airlines captain David Hans Arnston had been sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison for piloting an aircraft with over 80 passengers aboard, according to CBS reports.

The 63-year-old aviator, previously pleaded guilty to the crime in February of this year. On June 20, 2014, Arnston piloted two flights — from San Diego, Calif., to Portland, Ore., with 160 passengers on board; and then returned to San Diego piloting a second Alaska Airlines flight carrying 80 passengers. Upon deplaning in San Diego, he was randomly selected for drug and alcohol testing by the carrier.

According to plea agreement both breathalyzer tests performed on Arnston “were well above the federal limit of 0.04 percent for pilots,” indicating blood alcohol concentrations of 0.134 and 0.142 percent, over three times the legal limit.

After touching down at John Wayne Airport and spotting the drug tester, Arnston allegedly said, “I bet it’s for me,” according to his co-pilot on the two flights said, CBS reports.  

Arnston was then removed from all safety-sensitive duties by Alaska Airlines, and he retired from employment with the carrier after a 20-plus year career as a captain, KTLA reports. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also revoked his pilot’s license.

Prosecutors said that Arnston was an alcoholic “during at least a substantial portion” of his career, and concealed the fact from both the carrier and FAA.

 

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