Delta Pilot Charged in Alleged Death Threat

Airplane pilot | Image by l i g h t p o e t

A grand jury in Utah has returned an indictment against a commercial airline pilot after he allegedly threatened to shoot a captain during a flight.

Jonathan J. Dunn of California faces formal charges of interference with a flight crew stemming from an incident that occurred last year while he was serving as first officer on a Delta flight in August 2022.

During the flight, a passenger experienced a “medical event,” and Dunn and the captain had a disagreement over diverting the plane, according to the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Dunn allegedly told the captain that they “would be shot multiple times” were the plane taken off course.

He was carrying an authorized firearm at the time of the heated exchange as part of a safety program run by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

No information was provided as to the flight route or the ultimate outcome of the event, including whether the plane ended up diverting.

The indictment concluded that Dunn “did assault and intimidate a crew member of an aircraft, thereby interfering with the performance of the duties of the crew member and lessening the ability of the crew member to perform those duties, and did use a dangerous weapon in assaulting and intimidating the crew member,” according to NBC News.

If found guilty of this felony offense, Dunn could face up to 20 years in prison.

The investigation is still ongoing, with the OIG working with the FBI and the Federal Aviation Administration. Dunn is set to be arraigned on November 16.

Statements from both the TSA and Delta reveal that Dunn is no longer in TSA’s armed safety program nor employed by the airline.

Another incident involving a commercial pilot with Alaska Airlines also made headlines recently for allegedly trying to shut down the engines of a plane bound for San Fransisco on October 22.

Joseph David Emerson of California was off-duty at the time and occupying the jump seat in the cockpit. The bizarre incident reportedly stemmed from Emerson allegedly having taken psychedelic mushrooms two days before and struggling with mental health issues.

He was subdued by the crew, and the flight was diverted to Portland, where he was taken into custody on the same felony charge as Dunn.

The commercial airline industry continues to be under considerable strain due to staffing shortages affecting pilots, air traffic controllers, aviation mechanics, and more, as previously covered in The Dallas Express. This has raised several questions about air travel safety, with several near misses making the news this year.

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