Va. pilot facing charges after bringing gun on plane

Posted at 10:05 PM, May 23, 2012
and last updated 2012-05-24 13:01:54-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - A Virginia-based pilot is facing serious charges after TSA officials say he took a loaded gun onboard an airplane.

The Barboursville pilot was reportedly able to board several flights carrying a .357 firearm in a bag that was not x-rayed until he passed through a security checkpoint in a New York airport.

52-year-old Brett Dieter was arrested last Friday, however TSA officials believe he had been traveling for a few days with the gun.

We wanted to learn more about the screening policies for pilots and crew at airports across the country. CBS 6 learned that there is no federal uniform policy when it comes to screening crew members.

Kawika Riley, a spokesperson for the TSA, said pilots are able to reach their aircraft through access points other than checkpoints in many airports. However, the access points vary from airport to airport.

Riley said pilots are prohibited from taking firearms onto airplanes.

"The only exception is for pilots who are members of the Federal Flight Deck Officer Program. The pilot arrested Friday was not a member of this program," explained Riley.

When advised that some pilots and airline crew members are not always scanned, some people were critical of the policy.

"I'm not real comfortable with the fact that not everybody is being scanned,” said Lex Appel. “I do think pilots should go through screening. You never know who might be posing as a pilot. I just assumed they went through some type of screening or precautions. We go through so much, I would have thought they go through something,"

Appel was just picking up her daughter and granddaughter from Richmond International Airport when she heard about the news.

Her daughter, Christy Potter, said she'd like to see an across the board federal policy for the screening of all pilots and crew members.

"I have mixed emotions about that because I do think they should go through the same process that we all go through. I'd rather not have an unauthorized gun on a flight that I'm on," added Potter.

CBS 6 News contacted the offices for Senator Mark Warner and Congressmen Bobby Scott, Robert Hurt and Eric Cantor to see if they think a mandatory policy of screening all pilots is necessary in U.S. airports. CBS 6 is awaiting their responses.

Dieter now faces a federal charge of attempting to carry a weapon or explosive on an aircraft.