A former Alaska Airlines pilot was arrested Thursday and charged with piloting a passenger plane while under the influence of alcohol.
David Hans Arnston, 60, of Newport Beach, Calif., allegedly was found to have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.134 percent and 0.142 percent during two random drug and alcohol tests administered by his employer.
By federal law, a person operating 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.
According to a criminal complaint, the tests took place on June 20, 2014, after Arnston had piloted two flights. The first flight was from San Diego International Airport to Portland Oregon, then he flew to John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Calif.
According to the complaint, Arnston noticed the tester after landing at John Wayne Airport and told his co-pilot “I bet it’s for me.”
Alaska Airlines barred Arnston from all safety-sensitive activities after it was informed of the test results. Arnston retired from the airline soon after.
“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 U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “We cannot and will not tolerate those who violate the trust of their passengers by endangering lives.”
Arnston faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted. He was released on $25,000 bond. His next court appearance is set for February 10.