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A former Delta Air Lines co-pilot is facing federal charges for allegedly threatening to shoot a captain during a flight. The two pilots were arguing over potentially diverting the flight because of a “passenger medical event,” according to a U.S. Department of Transportation document. The lethal threat wasn’t empty because the pilot was authorized to carry a firearm in the cockpit.
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A Utah grand jury recently indicted Jonathan Dunn with a count of interference with a flight crew, according to CBS News. The incident itself took place on August 22, 2022, when Dunn was employed as a first officer with Delta Air Lines but is no longer flying for the Atlanta-based carrier. According to the USDOT statement, he allegedly “told the Captain they would be shot multiple times if the Captain diverted the flight.”
Dunn was cleared to carry a gun in the cockpit through the Transportation Security Administration’s Federal Flight Deck Officer program. The program was introduced in the wake of the September 11th attacks to allow pilots to use firearms “to defend against an act of criminal violence and air piracy while attempting to gain control of an aircraft,” to use the agency’s explanation.
To join the program, American pilots certified by the FAA just have to fill out an online application and attend a one-week training course in New Mexico. Program members then have to be recertified twice per year. The TSA has confirmed that Dunn is no longer in the program. But like the off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot who attempted to down a plane while high on mushrooms, it does raise questions about pilot well-being.