Former Delta co-pilot indicted for threatening captain with gun

A former Delta Air Lines co-pilot has been federally indicted for an incident on a flight last year in which he allegedly threatened the captain with a gun.

The pilot, Jonathan J. Dunn, had been authorized to carry a firearm through the Transportation Security Administration’s Federal Flight Deck Officer program.

The incident on Aug. 22, 2022 arose after a disagreement about diverting a flight because of a passenger medical event, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General.

Dunn was the first officer on the flight crew. After the disagreement, “Dunn told the Captain they would be shot multiple times if the Captain diverted the flight,” the DOT inspector general’s office said. The indictment alleges that Dunn used “a dangerous weapon in assaulting and intimidating” the captain.

The investigation is being conducted by the DOT inspector general’s office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Dunn was indicted by a grand jury in U.S. District Court in Utah on October 18 for interfering with the crew of a commercial airline flight. Atlanta-based Delta has a hub in Salt Lake City.

Delta issued a statement saying it would not comment on the matter because of the ongoing investigation by aviation authorities. But the airline confirmed that “this First Officer is no longer employed at Delta.”

He was also removed from the federal flight deck officer program, according to TSA.

The program was established after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, allowing pilots to be deputized by TSA, and trained and authorized to carry a firearm to “defend the flight deck of aircraft against acts of criminal violence or air piracy,” according to TSA. Pilots in the program are trained and authorized “to use force, including deadly force.”

To be eligible, a pilot must be certified by the FAA as a U.S. citizen and a pilot with a current pilot medical certificate. They must submit an application with their employment history, references and any law enforcement or military experience, and they must pass bi-annual firearms requalification. The application also says an extensive criminal history check is conducted on those applying.