Student pilot faces charges for attempting to enter B737 cockpit mid-flight

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A student pilot is facing federal charges after he allegedly made multiple attempts to open the cockpit door of a Boeing 737 aircraft he was flying on as a passenger.

Nathan Jones, 19, was aboard Alaska Airlines Flight 322 from San Diego International Airport (SAN) to Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) on March 3, 2024.

According to court documents reviewed by several US media outlets, Jones left his seat multiple times and made three separate attempts to go to the front of the aircraft and open the cockpit door.

Coincidentally, the flight had eight off-duty San Diego Police Department officers who were headed to the east coast of the US for training. 

Flight attendants requested assistance from the law enforcers, who restrained Jones and placed him in flex cuffs and sat on either side of the student pilot for the remainder of the flight.

According to an affidavit filed by Federal Air Marshal Thomas G. Pattinson, when flight attendants asked Jones what he was doing, the defendant allegedly said he was “testing” them.

Alaska Airlines confirmed the incident to CNN and said that Jones tried to access the cockpit in a “nonviolent manner” and appeared confused. Jones has since been banned from flying the airline.

Jones’ defense lawyer said in a statement to NBC News that he is “very concerned” about his client’s mental health and wants Jones to be psychologically evaluated before any kind of trial.

Jones has been charged with interference with a flight crew, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

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