A pilot who faced arrest for smelling of alcohol before a flight in January has now been charged with three offenses.
Suspended pilot Kolbjorn J. Kristiansen was charged in Hennepin County District Court this week with attempting to operate an aircraft while under the influence of alcohol and two other gross-misdemeanor counts.
The 48-year-old American Eagle pilot was suspected of being drunk while he made preflight checks at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on January 4. A preliminary breath test showed he had a blood alcohol content of 0.107 percent, with a follow-up test measuring 0.09 percent.
The state’s limit for commercial airline pilots is 0.04 percent, and pilots are forbidden from flying within eight hours of drinking.
Kristiansen was caught when he walked by police at roughly 5:30 am and they noticed he smelled of alcohol. The officers went to his aircraft where they found Kristiansen checking the preflight paperwork and beginning to inspect the plane.
Police said the pilot was slow in answering the officers’ questions and smelled of liquor. The pilot acknowledged drinking the night before and was given a breath test by the officers.
The pilot’s alcohol arrest came before any of the flight’s 50 passengers had boarded. The flight ended up being delayed more than two hours after the pilot’s arrest.
The pilot was arrested for alcohol and removed from the jet before it departed for New York’s LaGuardia Airport.
At the time of the incident, American Airlines released a statement reassuring passengers that it has strict measures in place to make sure pilots stay sober.
“American Eagle has a well-established substance abuse policy that is designed to put the safety of our customers and employees first,” said spokesman Matt Miller of American Airlines, which uses American Eagle to operate shorter connecting flights.. “We are cooperating with authorities and conducting a full internal investigation.”
After the pilot’s alcohol arrest, he was suspended by his airline.