MINNEAPOLIS – An American Eagle pilot was charged Tuesday with three gross misdemeanors after authorities said he failed a blood-alcohol test as he was preparing to fly a plane from Minneapolis to New York City in January.
Kolbjorn Jarle Kristiansen, 48, was arrested at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Jan. 4 after airport police and a Transportation Security Administration officer said they smelled alcohol as they walked past a group of four pilots around 5:30 a.m. Authorities said a preliminary test revealed Kristiansen’s blood-alcohol content was 0.107, more than double the legal limit for pilots.
Kristiansen, of Raleigh, N.C., was charged in Minnesota’s Hennepin County District Court with three counts related to attempting to operate an aircraft under the influence of alcohol. Each count carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a fine of $3,000.
Kristiansen’s attorney, Peter Wold, said he hadn’t seen the charges but they were expected.
“He never operated the aircraft. He never touched the controls,” Wold said. “That’s just the fact.”
American Airlines uses American Eagle to operate shorter connecting flights.