Monday, February 26, 2024

A pilot was indicted last month for allegedly threatening to shoot his captain if the flight they were piloting was diverted for a passenger’s medical needs, U.S. officials and court documents said.

Federal court records show that a grand jury in Utah indicted the pilot, Jonathan J. Dunn, on Oct. 18, charging him with one count of interference with a flight crew on Aug. 22, 2022.

Mr. Dunn, according to the indictment, is accused of assaulting and intimidating a crew member and using a dangerous weapon in the act. The court records did not specify the weapon, but the indictment said Mr. Dunn was authorized to carry a firearm on board.

The U.S. attorney’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday, and it was unclear if Mr. Dunn had a legal representative.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s inspector general office identified Mr. Dunn as the crew’s first officer from California, according to a short news release.

“After a disagreement about a potential flight diversion due to a passenger medical event, Dunn told the captain they would be shot multiple times if the captain diverted the flight,” the news release said.

The captain was not identified, nor were there details about the flight’s route or what happened after landing. A spokesman for Delta confirmed that Mr. Dunn had been employed by the airline but that he no longer was. He declined to provide other details.

The inspector general’s office said it was investigating the incident with the Federal Bureau of Investigation with assistance from the Federal Aviation Administration.

A person who interferes with flight crew members and attendants faces up to 20 years in prison. If a dangerous weapon is used in assaulting or intimidating the member, the person could be sentenced to life in prison.

Unruly pilot behavior has recently created dangerous situations for flight crew and passengers.

Last month, an off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot who tried to shut off the engines during a flight told investigators he had consumed psychedelic mushrooms. That pilot was charged in federal court with one count of interfering with flight crew members and attendants, and in circuit court with 83 counts of attempted murder and one count of endangering an aircraft.

Last year, a pilot was removed from the cockpit of a JetBlue flight and failed a sobriety test, which indicated blood alcohol content more than four times the federal limit for pilots.

Similarly, a co-pilot for Japan Airlines pleaded guilty in 2018 to exceeding the legal alcohol limit. That pilot admitted to consuming two bottles of wine and five cans of beer hours before he was scheduled to help pilot a flight to Tokyo from London.

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