Pilot accused of threatening to shoot captain who tried to divert flight for a medical emergency, officials say
(CNN) — An armed pilot on a commercial airliner threatened to shoot the flight’s captain if they diverted the flight for a passenger medical event, according to a statement from the US Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General and court documents.
Jonathan J. Dunn was indicted by a Utah grand jury on October 18 and charged with interference with a flight crew, stemming from an August 2022 incident, according to court documents.
Dunn used a dangerous weapon to assault and intimidate a crew member, interfering with the crew member’s ability to perform their duties, the documents state.
Dunn, who was the crew’s first officer, “told the Captain they would be shot multiple times” after a disagreement regarding a possible flight diversion for a passenger medical event, the Office of Inspector General said.
The inspector general’s statement didn’t say which airline was operating the flight, but Delta told CNN in a statement, “This first officer is no longer employed at Delta.”
“Out of respect for the ongoing aviation authority investigation of this incident, Delta will refrain from commenting on this matter,” the statement said.
Dunn was authorized to carry a gun on board the plane due to the Transportation Security Administration’s Federal Flight Deck Officer program, the Inspector General’s office said.
Dunn has been removed from the program, the TSA said, though it did not specify when he was removed.
The Federal Flight Deck Officer program was developed in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks and involves training and arming pilots to handle an in-flight attack, such as a hijacking attempt.
“Upon successful completion, the pilot is deputized as a federal law enforcement officer and issued a TSA-approved firearm and federal flight deck officer credentials,” the Transportation Security Administration said.
Pilots, flight engineers and flight navigators who meet certain requirements are eligible for the program, according to the agency.
The program also requires participants to pass a bi-annual firearms requalification, the TSA said.
The Office of Inspector General said it is conducting an investigation into the in-flight incident alongside the FBI and Federal Aviation Administration.
An arraignment for Dunn is scheduled for November 16, according to online court records.
CNN has reached out to the US Attorney for the District of Utah office for comment.