Pilot impersonator isn't stopped until he reaches cockpit of jet in Philadelphia
A 61-year-old Frenchman was caught impersonating a pilot in the cockpit of a plane scheduled for takeoff and arrested at Philadelphia International Airport, police revealed on Friday.
The crew of a US Airways flight bound for West Palm Beach, Fla., found Philippe Jernnard of La Rochelle, France, in the jump seat behind the pilot on Wednesday evening. He was removed when he was unable to produce valid credentials and became argumentative, police said.
Jernnard, who was a ticketed passenger, was wearing a white shirt with an Air France logo and had a black jacket with epaulets on the shoulders, police said. He allegedly was in possession of a counterfeit Air France crew member ID card.
Air France denied that Jernnard was an employee.
It's not clear how Jernnard got into the cockpit, but one security expert said he didn't view it as a breach.
Pilots can typically ride for free in the jump seat of another airline, but they must make arrangements ahead of time and their presence would be noted on a passenger manifest. That manifest is reviewed by the pilot before takeoff — meaning that Jernnard didn't have a chance of remaining, said Douglas Laird, former security director for Northwest Airlines.
“The guy can't do any harm sitting up there. He has no access to the controls sitting there. I think the system worked,” said Laird, who now runs an airline security consultancy in Reno, Nev.
Police said there's no indication Jernnard meant any harm. A US Airways spokeswoman referred questions to the FBI, which confirmed it is investigating but declined to comment.
O'Brien said Jernnard initially became upset at the gate when he asked to be upgraded to business class.
“The (US Airways) employee gate agent told the male there was no space left in business class. He became irate,” O'Brien said.
Jernnard then boarded the plane and made his way to the jump seat.
Jernnard's stunt mirrored one by con artist Frank Abagnale Jr., whose exploits were chronicled in the 2002 hit film “Catch Me If You Can.” In the movie, Abagnale, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, is able to make his way into a plane's cockpit, bluffing his way past security and distracting the FBI by donning a pilot's uniform.
Abagnale, an American, was apprehended and imprisoned in 1969 in France.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Lawyers donate thousands of dollars to Pennsylvania Supreme Court race
- Reports grim for Pennsylvania’s state-run veterans homes
- All Pennsylvanians to pay more, GOP gleans from report on Wolf’s tax plan
- Millions needed to replace at-risk natural gas pipes in Pennsylvania
- Pa. justices to consider murky case on charities