Pilot Who Allegedly Threatened Captain Claims It Was a Joke

A ex-Delta Air Lines pilot, Jonathan J. Dunn, has made a court appearance following charges of disrupting a flight crew. Dunn, 42, was formally accused by a grand jury on October 18th, 2023. His initial court hearing took place in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Thursday, January 4th. During the proceedings, his legal representative contended that the alleged incident was merely a misunderstanding.

Dunn, a married father of four, served as a first officer or co-pilot. Allegedly, during a flight in August 2022, he is accused of making threats to shoot the plane’s captain amid a disagreement regarding a potential diversion. The unnamed captain proposed diverting the flight to Grand Junction, Colorado, in case a passenger’s medical emergency escalated. According to the captain, Dunn strongly objected to this suggestion and even went as far as threatening the captain’s life if a diversion was attempted. Dunn, on the other hand, claimed that his threats were meant as jokes.

Lieutenant Dunn, serving in the Air Force Reserve, had the authorization to have a firearm on the plane under the Federal Flight Deck Program by the Transportation Security Administration. This program was implemented in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, acknowledging the impractical cost of assigning a Flight Marshal to each flight. It allows specific pilots to bear arms on domestic flights after being vetted and completing a training program.

Every pilot participating in the program is required to undergo routine medical examinations during which they must disclose any mental health concerns and report their use of medication, drugs, or alcohol to the examiner. Additionally, all pilots, regardless of their involvement in the Federal Flight Deck Program, are obligated to receive training on handling disputes in a composed manner.

Dunn, potentially facing a maximum of 20 years in prison upon conviction, is scheduled to appear in court again in March 2024. During this interim period, he is authorized to reside at his in-laws’ residence in South Dakota, where he has been residing. As part of the court order, he must surrender his passport and is prohibited from possessing any firearm or contacting any witnesses until his court date.




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