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Former Alaska Airlines pilot sentenced to year in prison for flying while drunk

A former Alaska Airlines pilot who admitted to being drunk while flying an aircraft with more than 80 passengers on board has been sentenced to one year and one day in prison, the U.S. Attorney in central California said Wednesday. David Hans Arntson, 63, of Newport Beach, California, had previously pleaded guilty to one felony count of operating a common carrier while under the influence.

According to prosecutors, Arnston flew two flights on June 20, 2014. When he landed at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, Arntson was selected for random drug and alcohol testing by Alaska Airlines. After taking two breathalyze tests, he was found to have a blood alcohol level of 0.134 percent and 0.142 percent. The federal limit for pilots is 0.04.

Arntson's co-pilot on the two flights remembered Arntson saying "I bet it's for me" when he saw the drug tester at John Wayne Airport, according to a 2016 criminal complaint. 

Following the incident, Arntson retired from Alaska Airlines.

Prosecutors said in the sentencing memorandum that "during at least a substantial portion" of his more than 20-year career as a captain, Arnson was an alcoholic and concealed his drinking from his employer and the Federal Aviation Administration.