Archive for Thursday, March 27, 2008

Pilot explains how gun went off

March 27, 2008

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These photos show a purported bullet hole in a US Airways aircraft. In the top photo a suspected bullet hole is shown in the left third of the photo. At bottom the suspected bullet hole is shown in the bottom center of the photograph. A gunshot fired from a pistol belonging to the pilot of a US Airways flight blasted a small hole through the plane's cockpit wall on Saturday.

These photos show a purported bullet hole in a US Airways aircraft. In the top photo a suspected bullet hole is shown in the left third of the photo. At bottom the suspected bullet hole is shown in the bottom center of the photograph. A gunshot fired from a pistol belonging to the pilot of a US Airways flight blasted a small hole through the plane's cockpit wall on Saturday.

— A US Airways pilot whose gun fired inside a cockpit said he was trying to stow the weapon as the crew got ready to land, according to a police report released Wednesday.

The pilot didn't tell air traffic control about the shooting or say the bullet had punctured the cockpit until after the plane landed safely at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport on Saturday, the report said. Photos obtained by The Associated Press show a small exit hole on the plane's exterior below the cockpit window.

US Airways Tower Supervisor Nathan Gundlach told police that when he arrived the pilot was on the phone with the Transportation Security Administration. Gundlach contacted US Airways about the in-flight shooting, but police were not notified until an hour later.

"When I questioned Mr. Gundlach about the delay in airport police being notified, Mr. Gundlach apologized and took full responsibility," an airport police officer wrote in the report.

US Airways spokeswoman Andrea Rader declined to comment Wednesday, but airline officials have said the accidental discharge did not endanger the 124 passengers and five crew members on board.

Airline experts said the pilot, who was certified to carry the weapon on board, may have reacted appropriately after the accidental discharge. "If something happens in the air that's not an emergency that's changed the course of action of the aircraft, the priority is to land the airplane," said William Brogan, an aviation expert at Lewis University near Chicago. "It's fly first, communicate second."

The pistol discharged shortly before noon Saturday on Flight 1536 from Denver to Charlotte, as the Airbus A319 was at about 8,000 feet and about 10 minutes from landing.

The unidentified pilot, who has been taken off duty during the investigation, was part of the federal flight deck officer program created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

It was the first time a pilot's weapon has been fired on a plane since the certification program was created.

Comments

SettingTheRecordStraight 7 years ago

Guns don't "go off" any more than your car starts itself. This is a misused term propagated by those who fear, hate or do not understand firearms.

igby 7 years ago

Glocks can just go off. No manual safety. The safety is on the trigger. Bump the trigger with a sharp object just right and boom! He should of had the chamber empty, however, in a cockpit attack, you may not have time to chamber a round while seated in the cockpit.

Flap Doodle 7 years ago

The headline says "Pilot explains how gun went off". Check it out, scene......

beatrice 7 years ago

Guns don't go off, um, people do.

Squabbling over a turn of phrase. Funny. I actually think the phrase "gun goes off" to be the opposite of what happened. When the trigger was activated enough to fire a bullet, wouldn't that mean the gun was "on." Your toaster, radio, car, etc.... is "on" when it is working. A gun is working when it is firing bullets, so why say it "goes off" when it actually "goes on"?

I bet the pilot wishes the gun had stayed off.

In reality, this was inevitable when you add the human factor into the handling of loaded firearms. Glad nobody got hurt and that this story can simply be used as an example to other pilots to be more mindful and careful when handling the cockpit firearm. Pilots must remember to keep their guns "off" until an emergency situation arises, and then the gun goes "on." As long as the pilot wasn't drunk or doing something stupid, I don't think he should be disciplined beyond perhaps taking another gun safety course.

Charles L Bloss Jr 7 years ago

It wasn't a Glock. It was an H & K pistol. Thank you, Lynn

aginglady 7 years ago

There is a good side to this. That is one pilot who will actually get some sleep for a change.

Maybe medical residents should accidentally fire some shots. Then people won't be treated by overworked zombies.

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