A Delta Air Lines pilot allegedly pulled a gun on the Captain of a commercial flight and threatened to shoot them ‘multiple times’ if the flight was diverted to get urgent help for a passenger who was suffering a medical emergency.
First Officer Jonathan J. Dunn was indicted on Wednesday by a Utah Grand Jury with interference with a flight crew following the horrifying incident which occurred on August 22, 2022. If found guilty, Dunn faces a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment.
Few details of what exactly occurred during the flight have so far been released by prosecutors, but the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Transportation (DOT) confirmed that Dunn was authorized to carry a firearm on the flight deck as part of a post 9/11 security program.
According to the criminal indictment, Dunn, who was a Delta Air Lines pilot on the Airbus A320 fleet, allegedly got into a disagreement with the plane’s Captain over the need to divert a commercial flight because of a passenger suffering a medical emergency.
After pulling a gun on the Captain, the OIG said in a statement that “Dunn told the Captain they would be shot multiple times if the Captain diverted the flight”.
Delta Air Lines says it is unable to comment on the ongoing criminal investigation but confirmed that Dunn is no longer employed by the Atlanta-based airline. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) also said it was unable to provide further details due to the ongoing investigation.
The Federal Flight Deck Officer program was introduced in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and allows authorized pilots to carry a loaded firearm on the flight deck of a commercial flight to defend the cockpit against attack.
According to the TSA, pilots who take part in the program are subject to extensive background checks and psychological screening and have to undergo rigorous training before being authorized to carry a firearm on the flight deck.
The indictment comes a little more than a week after an off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot allegedly attempted to deliberately shut down the engines of a Horizon Air flight to San Francisco while travelling on the flight deck jumpseat.
Joseph David Emerson, 44, has been charged with 83 counts of attempted murder – one count for every passenger and crew member onboard flight AS-2059 – after he tried to pull the emergency engine extinguishers.
Emerson has pleaded not guilty after telling prosecutors that he was suffering a nervous breakdown at the time of the incident and had not slept in 40 hours in the lead-up to what happened.
Dunn is due to appear in federal court in Utah on November 16 where he will be arraigned.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.