It turns out that flight crews are just as capable of trying to smuggle dangerous items onto planes. Brian A. Machtemes, a pilot for Sun Country Airlines, was arrested in Southwest Florida International Airport on Friday after TSA discovered a loaded handgun in his luggage. The gun was detected during a routine X-ray screening.
TSA officer Jacob Brunick was the one who first inspected the bag. Upon opening a zipper pouch, he found a .380-caliber pistol loaded with six rounds. Since Machtemes had previously confirmed that the bag was indeed his, and had not been packed or tampered with by anyone else, he was promptly arrested on charges of carrying an unlicensed concealed firearm. Although Machtemes did possess a valid permit to carry a gun in Minnesota, Florida does not recognize Minnesota permits.
In a statement provided to Business Insider, Sun Country Airlines declined to comment on the incident, claiming that they “do not comment or confirm details related to individual employee conduct or work performance.” They did reveal, however, that the passengers of the flight Machtemes was meant to pilot were compensated with free hotels and a meal, as well as flight vouchers.
According to the Minnesota StarTribune, TSA does allow pilots to carry firearms in the cockpit in certain circumstances, but it must be transported in a locked case when not on the flight. This law has been in effect since 2003. Mark Howell, a TSA regional spokesperson told Business Insider that very few pilots actually carry guns. “They have to go through a whole separate screening process that’s different than just forgetting to have a firearm in your bag,” he said.
Machtemes has posted bond, and is currently awaiting a November 26th court date.
This isn’t the only instance of a rule-breaking pilot, either. According to The New York Times, a Japan Airlines co-pilot was traveling by bus to Heathrow Airport when the driver smelled alcohol on his breath, and alerted the authorities. Katsutoshi Jitsukawa was arrested 50 minutes before his flight to Tokyo, and pled guilty to exceeding the legal alcohol limit at court on Thursday, admitting to having consumed two bottles of wine and five beers before boarding the bus. This past June, the BBC reported that a British Airways pilot was jailed after crew members smelled alcohol on his breath prior to takeoff. As it turns out, he drank three double vodkas in his hotel room prior to his flight. “You are in charge of a huge aircraft,” said the judge during sentencing. “The safety, if not the lives, indeed, of passengers and crew members are in the hands of the pilot. They are entitled to feel that they are safe.”
H/T: Travel & Leisure