Former Alaska Airlines pilot from Newport Beach pleads guilty to flying while intoxicated

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- A former Alaska Airlines captain from Newport Beach agreed to plead guilty Monday to federal charges of flying an airplane while intoxicated.

David Hans Arnston, 62, pleaded guilty as part of a plea agreement where he will serve one year and one day in prison followed by three years of supervised release.

On June 20, 2014, Arnston piloted two Alaskan Airlines flights: one from San Diego to Portland, Oregon, and then one from Portland to John Wayne Airport in Orange County.

After landing, Arnston was selected for a random drug and alcohol test by the airline. The technician performed two breathalyzer tests on Arnston and found he blew a blood alcohol content level of 0.134 and another of 0.142, which are both way above the federal limit of 0.04 for pilots.

The airline then removed Arnston from all safety-sensitive duties. He retired after being with the airline for more than two decades, and the Federal Aviation Administration revoked Arnston's piloting license.

"This pilot worked for the airline for more than 20 years, and we now know that he was an alcoholic who flew commercial flights while under the influence of alcohol," U.S. Attorney Nicola T. Hanna said. "When he was finally caught, the evidence indicates that he had flown with an alcohol level more than three times the legal limit. Thankfully, Mr. Arntson was never involved in an accident, but his conduct could have resulted in tragic consequences. Very few people will ever hold the lives of so many people in their hands at one time."

Arnston is scheduled to be sentenced on June 11.
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