MINNEAPOLIS, April 9 A pilot has been charged
with being under the influence of alcohol while getting ready to
fly an American Eagle plane from Minneapolis to New York City in
January, a spokesman for the Minneapolis-St. Paul International
Airport said on Tuesday.
Kolbjorn Kristiansen had been doing pre-flight checks ahead
of a morning flight to New York when airport police took him
into custody and administered a breath test, which he failed.
Witnesses said they had smelled alcohol when they passed
Kristiansen in an airport terminal. His arrest happened before
passengers boarded the flight on American Eagle, a regional
carrier for AMR Corp's American Airlines.
Kristiansen was charged with three gross misdemeanors in
state court after blood tests showed he had a blood-alcohol
concentration of 0.09 percent, more than twice the legal limit
for a pilot in the state, airport spokesman Patrick Hogan said.
He was charged with operating or attempting to operate an
aircraft under the influence of alcohol, operating or attempting
to operate an aircraft with alcohol content of 0.04 or more and
operating or attempting to operate an aircraft with alcohol
content at 0.04 or more within two hours of a flight, he said.
The threshold for pilots in Minnesota is 0.04, as it is
under Federal Aviation Administration rules, or about half what
it would be for drivers of automobiles. The initial breath test
had returned a 0.107 concentration.
Kristiansen, who is from Raleigh, North Carolina, was
released on his own recognizance in January and is not flying.
His attorney, Peter Wold, said Tuesday he had seen a copy of
the complaint and questioned the charges.
"He did nothing to attempt to fly other than being near that
aircraft," Wold said in a telephone interview. "He didn't
operate any controls. He didn't accept any directions. He didn't
contact the control tower. I don't understand how they think he
attempted to fly an aircraft."