2013 file photo (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
Photo: David McNew
Photo: David McNew

Former Alaska Airlines pilot arrested for flying under influence

A former Alaska Airlines captain was arrested on the suspicion of flying while under the influence of alcohol, the Department of Justice announced on Thursday.

David Hans Arntson, 60, was arrested on Wednesday in California, where he resides in Newport Beach. He faces federal charges of piloting a plane with passengers while under the influence of alcohol.

Key developments according to DOJ:  

  • Arntson flew two flights before a random drug and alcohol test in June 2014
  • Flights were from San Diego International to Portland and Portland to John Wayne Airport
  • He had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.134 percent and 0.142 percent
  • A criminal complaint was filed Jan. 2016 in United States District Court.

Arntson was the pilot of two Alaska Airlines flights on June 20, 2014, according to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday in United States District Court.

The first flight was from San Diego International Airport to Portland, Oregon.

He then flew a plane from Portland, Oregon, to John Wayne Airport in Orange County.

After landing at John Wayne Airport, Arntson was selected for random drug and alcohol testing by Alaska Airlines.

A technician performed two tests on Arntson and received results that the pilot had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.134 percent and 0.142 percent. When Alaska Airlines became aware of the test results, it removed Arntson from all safety-sensitive duties.

“Alaska Airlines has an uncompromising commitment to safety and compliance and we put the safety of our passengers and our employees above all else," an Alaska Airlines spokeswoman said in a statement. "We have a zero tolerance policy for employees, including pilots, who fail alcohol and drug tests.  Mr. Arntson was immediately removed from duty, he never flew for Alaska after June 20 and he left the company soon after. We believe he is deserving of the Department of Justice’s actions.”

Arntson retired from Alaska Airlines following the incident.

"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. “We cannot and will not tolerate those who violate the trust of their passengers by endangering lives."

Arntson was released on a $25,000 bond and was ordered to appear for an arraignment on February 10.

The charge of operating a common carrier while under the influence of alcohol or drugs carries a statutory maximum penalty of 15 years in federal prison.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.