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Alaska Airlines Pilot Charged With Flying Planes While Drunk

Captain David Hans Arntson's breath showed an alcohol level of 0.134 when he flew passengers from San Diego and Portland in 2014.

Posted on January 21, 2016, at 11:15 p.m. ET

Elaine Thompson / AP

A former Alaska Airlines pilot was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of flying a commercial plane while under the influence of alcohol.

David Hans Arntson, who has since retired, was charged by federal prosecutors in connection with flights in 2014. The 60-year-old is scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 10 and has been released on $25,000 bond.

According to a law enforcement affidavit, Arntston captained a flight from San Diego to Portland, then another from Portland to Orange County, California, on June 20, 2014.

When the plane landed in Orange County, a drug tester was waiting along with the plane's next crew, according to the affidavit. Arntston said, "I bet it's for me," his first officer would go on to tell law enforcement.

The captain's breath was tested twice for alcohol, first showing a 0.134 and then a 0.142 breath alcohol concentration. Under federal law, a pilot's alcohol concentration must be below 0.10 to fly a commercial plane.

When a Department of Transportation agent later interviewed Arntston, the pilot said he had no idea why he failed the breathalyzer test; he said he had not been drinking.

Alaska Airlines removed Arntston from "safety-sensitive duties" after the June 2014 flights, and he retired due to medical reasons, according to the affidavit.

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