LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A former airline pilot accused of flying a plane while under the influence has been arrested on federal charges, authorities said.
David Hans Arntson, a 60-year-old former pilot for Alaska Airlines and resident of Newport Beach, was arrested Wednesday morning and arraigned on a federal charge in Los Angeles.
A news release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Arntson was released on a $25,000 bond and ordered to return to court Feb. 10.
Citing a criminal complaint, authorities say Arntson on June 20, 2014 flew from San Diego to Portland and then from Portland to Orange County.
When he landed at John Wayne Airport, authorities say he was selected for random drug and alcohol testing by the airline.
“Mr. Arntson was taken off the airport and he was subjected to a random alcohol and drug test,” Dennis Mitchell, an assistant U.S. Attorney, said.
A technician for Alaska Airlines performed two tests on Arntson which authorities allege returned BAC levels of 0.13 percent and 0.14 percent.
Under federal law, authorities say, a person operating a commercial airliner is presumed to be under the influence when his or her BAC level is 0.10 percent or higher.
“This was well in excess of the legal limit,” Mitchell said.
One witness to it all was his own co-pilot.
“In this case, this was the first officer indicated to the investigating agents that when the flight arrived in Orange County on June 20th and they saw the drug tester awaiting at the gate as the flight was arriving, the first officer recalled Mr. Arntson saying, ‘I bet it’s for me,’ ” Mitchell said.
Arntson never flew again as he retired from Alaska Airlines after the incident, authorities said.
“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 in the news release. “We cannot and will not tolerate those who violate the trust of their passengers by endangering lives.”
If convicted, Arntson could face up to 15 years in prison.