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Over the legal limit again

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Over the legal limit again

Old 22nd Jan 2016, 06:29
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Over the legal limit again

LOS ANGELES -- Federal authorities have arrested a former Alaska Airlines captain on federal charges of piloting a plane while intoxicated.
Alaska Airlines pilot arrested for allegedly flying planes drunk - CBS News
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Old 22nd Jan 2016, 10:00
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CBS News
The legal limit for operating a commercial plane is a blood alcohol content of 0.10 percent or higher.
WRONG!!!

http://www.airspacedoc.com/alcohol-t...t-and-the-faa/
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Old 22nd Jan 2016, 16:57
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Something that strikes me as odd is that the breath test was done in June 2014 and the criminal complaint was filed earlier this week, a year and a half later.

I've known of several cases where a pilot was 'allowed to retire' after a positive drug or alcohol test. It avoids the negative publicity of a trial, gets the offender out of the cockpit and in the past seemed to close the matter with the feds. Sadly, some folks never conquer their demons and pass away soon after leaving the airline from what I've seen.

The criminal complaint indicates that the alcohol test was indeed random and that neither the tester nor the other crewmembers said they smelled alcohol on Captain Arntson's breath.
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Old 22nd Jan 2016, 17:08
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There must be more to this story than meets the eye? If not I bet he beats the charges. Of course he will spend thousands of dollars dealing with the authorities and his own legal defense fund. Seems like the law enforcement folks down in SOCAL would have something more important on there ledger than this to do. Justice delayed is justice denied.
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Old 22nd Jan 2016, 19:34
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Here in the UK, Ian Jennings who captained a CL-601 from Oxford - Palma - Norwich, got 9 months inside for being three times over the prescribed limit. The prescribed limit quoted in that case was 9 microgrammes per 100 millilitres of breath. It was also mentioned that the limit for driving was 35.
Not much room to chance a wee dram of anything I would have thought.
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Old 23rd Jan 2016, 00:17
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Here's the criminal complaint for this case:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/296241771/...tson-Complaint

Like wanabee777 I am puzzled over the blood alcohol limit of .10% cited in news reports and in paragraph 4 of the Special Agent's affidavit. Is it possible that a lower standard of sobriety (i.e. higher BAC) somehow requires less legal effort to prove? Is this administrative law versus criminal law?

Normally .02% will get removal from duty as a pilot and .04% will get you in a lot more legal trouble. And, from what folks in the HIMS world tell me, often the legal stuff is often used, along with a termination letter, as leverage to ensure that you come down to the altar and be saved by the program. And, lives and careers have certainly been saved by the HIMS programs.

In a few cases, I've seen the pilot publically fired with the airline trumpeting its 'zero tolerance' policy. And then the airline quietly taking the pilot back with seniority intact after successfully completing a program of rehab and entering FAA approved monitoring through HIMS.

Did the FAA in this case say the matter was settled when the pilot retired and the DOT OIG later decided to prosecute after thumbing through the FAA report files?
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Old 23rd Jan 2016, 01:14
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Yes it is administrative (regulation) vs. criminal law.

In this case the 0.04 limit rule comes from FAR Part 120.37(b):

(b) Alcohol concentration. No covered employee shall report for duty or remain on duty requiring the performance of safety-sensitive functions while having an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater. No certificate holder having actual knowledge that an employee has an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater shall permit the employee to perform or continue to perform safety-sensitive functions.
FAR 120.37 is enforced administratively by the FAA. Consequences of violating this regulation may include removal from safety-sensitive functions and permanent disqualification from service.

The .10 percent legal limit is a much more serious violation under criminal law. It is a felony under 18 U.S. Code 342 to operate a common carrier under influence:

342 - Operation of a common carrier under the influence of alcohol or drugs

Whoever operates or directs the operation of a common carrier while under the influence of alcohol or any controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802)), shall be imprisoned not more than fifteen years or fined under this title, or both.

343 - Presumptions

For purposes of this chapter -
(1) an individual with a blood alcohol content of .10 percent or more shall be presumed to be under the influence of alcohol; ...
Unlike FARs, you are subject to serious jail time for violating 342.

Criminal complaints under 342 are initiated by law enforcement officers, typically a Special Agent for the DOT.

In summary:
  • Violate FAR 120.37 == lose your job
  • Violate 18 US 342 == go to jail
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Old 23rd Jan 2016, 09:58
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Sorry guys. Saw the news on Yahoo news, checked the date of the news release but didnt see the date of the incident which was 2014
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Old 23rd Jan 2016, 16:17
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Yes it is administrative (regulation) vs. criminal law.
Thanks as always for your cites and explanation.

Sorry guys. Saw the news on Yahoo news, checked the date of the news release but didnt see the date of the incident which was 2014
Nothing at all to apologize for, the odd thing about this case is that the arrest was this past week, so long after the incident. It is almost like the felony prosecution is an afterthought or perhaps a change in policy with a new sheriff in town. Will other similar cases, long thought settled, be revisited to harvest new felony charges against crewmembers?
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Old 24th Jan 2016, 06:10
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maybe the probability that his BAC would have been much higher when commencing the flight resulted in his subsequent prosecution...
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Old 24th Jan 2016, 17:11
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A long time ago....

I recall a case in 1990 with a Northwest Airlines 727 crew that were convicted and went to jail after drinking late into the night, then flying the airplane with passengers from Fargo, ND to Minneapolis.

Two hours after the flight landed, the captain tested .13, the FO tested .06 and the FE was .08.

The captain got 16 months, the other two got a year in prison.

A waitress at the bar said the captain had 15 rum and colas before he left the bar at 11:30. The crew reported for the 40 minute early morning (0630 departure) flight and were reported to the airline by passengers who were in the same bar the night before and recognized the pilots.

The captain went through rehab and later earned all his license and ratings back. He was rehired by Northwest where he flew until age 60 as a B-747 captain.
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Old 24th Jan 2016, 17:44
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The captain got 16 months, the other two got a year in prison.
Here's a memorable PPRuNe post by Captain Prouse about the incident and his road to recovery:

http://www.pprune.org/rumours-news/2...ml#post3028059
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Old 26th Jan 2016, 05:05
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Captain Prouse wrote an awesome book called "Final Approach." It's not heavy reading, but it details his life, spiral in to alcoholism, and his ongoing recovery. I recommend it highly.

The DOJ is now prosecuting the case because they know they can win. They most likely received evidence that can sustain a federal charge.
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Old 26th Jan 2016, 11:16
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"The DOJ is now prosecuting the case because they know they can win. They most likely received evidence that can sustain a federal charge"


Well why bother with a trial, lets just move right to the sentencing phase and done with it.
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Old 26th Jan 2016, 14:49
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Another good book:

Flying Drunk: The True Story of a Northwest Airlines Flight, Three Drunk Pilots, and One Man's Fight for Redemption by Joseph Balzer ? Reviews, Discussion, Bookclubs, Lists
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 21:24
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Arntson (misspelled as Arnston in some media reports) copped a plea for jail and a fine:

Newport Beach pilot sentenced to a year in prison for flying Alaska Airlines plane while under the influence of alcohol


By Hannah Fry Jul 25, 2018 6:05 PM
A Newport Beach man was sentenced Wednesday to a year and a day in federal prison for piloting an Alaska Airlines plane while under the influence of alcohol in 2014.

David Hans Arntson, 63,
pleaded guilty in February to a felony count of operating a carrier while under the influence. He acknowledged as part of a plea agreement that he was an alcoholic for a “substantial” portion of his career as an airline pilot.

U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney called Arntson’s offense “very dangerous” and ordered him to pay a $10,000 fine.

According to court documents, Arntson piloted two Alaska Airlines flights on June 20, 2014. The first was at 6:21 a.m. from San Diego to Portland, Ore. After a brief layover, he piloted a flight from Portland to Orange County.




After he landed at John Wayne Airport, Arntson was selected for random drug and alcohol testing by Alaska Airlines.
Breath tests conducted 15 minutes apart in an airport restroom indicated that Arntson had blood-alcohol concentrations of 0.134% and 0.142%. The federal limit for pilots is 0.04%, according to court records.

Arntson told investigators that he didn’t understand the test results since he hadn’t consumed alcohol that day. Arntson said he ordered a beer with dinner the night before the flight from San Diego but took only a few sips.

Arntson, who had worked for Alaska Airlines since 1982, was removed from “safety-sensitive duties” the day of the tests, according to the airline. He later retired because of medical issues.

“The defendant was at the controls during hundreds of flights carrying innumerable passengers — undoubtedly under the influence of alcohol during many of those trips,” U.S. Attorney Nicola Hanna said in a statement. “Fortunately, he was finally caught and the risk to passengers was stopped.”


Newport Beach pilot sentenced to a year in prison for flying Alaska Airlines plane while under the influence of alcohol

The earlier plea agreement is here:

https://www.scribd.com/document/3709...ENT#from_embed

In years past the 'retire and we won't send you to jail' has been a frequent settlement of airline pilot alcohol cases in my anecdotal experience.

Is this .10% BAC benchmark for DOT review of previous cases going to apply to just those who actually made it to the controls with pax onboard? Or will it also apply to those cases where the pilot shows up stumbling drunk and gets stopped at security, ops or gets removed from the plane before pax boarding?












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Old 26th Jul 2018, 21:29
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“The defendant was at the controls during hundreds of flights carrying innumerable passengers — undoubtedly under the influence of alcohol during many of those trips,” U.S. Attorney Nicola Hanna
Ms. Hanna should confine her remarks to evidence that she can PROVE in Court in future.
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 22:31
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Originally Posted by er340790
Ms. Hanna should confine her remarks to evidence that she can PROVE in Court in future.


U.S. Attorney Hanna can certainly cite the plea agreement linked above to back up her claim.

On page 2 Arntson agrees not to contest facts agreed to in the plea agreement. On page 5 under Factual Basis it says: 'For more than twenty years defendant was employed as an airline captain for Alaska Airlines, a major airline that conducted flights throughout the United States. For at least a substantial potion of that time, defendant suffered from alcoholism, which caused him to pilot passenger airline flights while under the influence of alcohol.'
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Old 26th Jul 2018, 23:47
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Originally Posted by er340790
Ms. Hanna should confine her remarks to evidence that she can PROVE in Court in future.
Originally Posted by Negan
Yeah totally out of order making allegations against someone with nothing to back it up other than an assumption
I guess you did not read the article nor the plea deal?

As part of a plea deal, Arntson admitted that for much of his tenure as an airline captain he was an alcoholic, which, according to a court filing, led him to "pilot passenger airline flights while under the influence of alcohol."

Arntson's attorneys in their own sentencing brief indicated that their client's excessive drinking over the years had rotted his liver and left him with cirrhosis. As a result, the attorneys wrote, Arntson could not physically process alcohol the way his body used to, and didn't feel impaired while flying.

Yet another very interesting legal defense, like the other 2 pilots, we are alcoholics, so we have a higher tolerance.....no problemo.
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