Armed Delta pilot ‘threatened to shoot’ captain mid-flight if he diverted plane

Delta pilot indicted threatening captain gun
Jose Miguel Sanchez /

A former Delta pilot has been indicted by a grand jury in the United States (US) District Court for the District of Utah after he allegedly threatened to shoot the captain “multiple times” mid-flight.  

According to the Office of Inspector General, part of the Department of Transportation, the incident arose after a “passenger medical event’ occurred on the flight.  

“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 Office of Inspector General said in a statement.  

Court documents, seen by AeroTime, allege that on August 22, 2023, the pilot, named Jonathan J. Dunn, “assaulted and intimidated” the captain and “interfered with the performance” of his duties. 

The document added that Dunn allegedly “used a dangerous weapon in assaulting and intimidating” the crew member.  

The Office of Inspector General said Dunn was “authorized to carry a firearm through the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Federal Flight Deck Officer program (FFDO)”. 

The Federal Flight Deck Officer program trains pilots to use TSA issued firearms to defend the cockpit against potential hijackers. 

Details regarding the incident emerged on October 31, 2023, however Dunn was indicted on October 18, 2023. 

“Out of respect for the ongoing aviation authority investigation of this incident, Delta will refrain from commenting on this matter but will confirm that this First Officer is no longer employed at Delta,” Delta told CBS News in a statement.  

The Office of Inspector General is investigating the incident with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  

“TSA is aware of an incident involving a Federal Flight Deck Officer. Dunn was removed from the FFDO program,” the TSA said.  

In a separate incident on October 22, 2023, an off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot allegedly tried to shut down an aircraft’s engine while he was travelling in the flight deck jump seat. 

Federal prosecutors from the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon charged Joseph Emerson from Pleasant Hill, California, with interfering with flight crew members, a charge that can lead to a 20-year prison sentence.   

Related Posts


Stay updated on aviation and aerospace - subscribe to our newsletter!