A former pilot for Alaska Airlines was sentenced on Wednesday to a year and a day in federal prison, for flying two flights in 2014 with a blood alcohol level more than three times the legal limit. David Arntson, 63, pleaded guilty in February to one felony count of operating a common carrier while under the influence. Prosecutors said Arnston had been an alcoholic during a “substantial” portion of his 20-year airline career, and had concealed his drinking from the airline and the FAA. Arnston also was assessed a $10,000 fine. The maximum penalty for the felony is 15 years in prison.
In a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles, prosecutors said Arnston flew from San Diego to Portland on June 20, 2014, and then from Portland to John Wayne Airport, in Orange County. After landing, Arnston was selected for random drug and alcohol testing by airline personnel. Two breathalyzer tests showed Arnston had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.135 percent and 0.142 percent. The federal limit is 0.04. Arnston later retired from the airline, and the FAA revoked his certificates. “This case sends a message to everyone in the aviation industry that passenger safety is paramount, and we will aggressively investigate and prosecute any threat to that safety,” said U.S attorney Nicola Hanna.