How Did Fake Pilot Get into Cockpit?
By Brittany Brady, CNN
(CNN) — An angry passenger used his mother’s old Air France employee documents to con his way into the cockpit of a US Airways flight last week, according to the criminal complaint filed against him Monday in U.S District Court in Philadelphia.
Philippe Jeannard, 61, had become disruptive Wednesday after being told that the airline could not accommodate his request to move up to business class during a stopover in Philadelphia. FBI Special Agent Brian L. Jones described Jeannard in an affidavit as difficult and verbally abusive to a flight attendant and gate supervisor.
Jeannard was wearing a white button-down shirt with an Air France logo over the pocket and a black jacket with four gold stripes on the epaulets, similar to one worn by pilots, the complaint said. He identified himself to the gate supervisor as an Air France pilot.
As a courtesy, a flight attendant asked Jeannard if he would like to speak with the pilots, according to the complaint. Jeannard entered the cockpit, where two pilots were performing preflight duties, and told the pilots he was an Air France Boeing 747 pilot, it says.
“He identified himself as a pilot and started to sit in the jump seat. But he immediately had a problem getting strapped in and it was obvious to the real pilots that he couldn’t be a pilot,” Philadelphia Inspector Joseph Sullivan told CNN last week. “He didn’t know what he was doing.”
The gate agent told Jeannard he would have to fill out paperwork to use the jump seat, but the man didn’t have credentials, police said. The captain then told him to leave the cockpit area, and Jeannard became irate, police said.
Jeannard was taken off the aircraft. He appeared to have had some drinks, but there’s no indication he was drunk, Sullivan said. The flight departed, and a US Airways agent tried to book him on another flight to West Palm Beach, Florida, his final destination.
According to the criminal complaint, after returning to the gate Jeannard covered his Air France shirt with a sweater and acknowledged to a US Airways manager that he was not an Air France employee.
Jeannard was taken to the Philadelphia Police Department’s airport holding cell and arrested on charges of trespassing, tampering with records, false impersonating and false identification to law enforcement authorities.
Police discovered documents appearing to be Air France checklists and flight plans in Jeannard’s briefcase, according to Jones’ complaint. It said Jeannard admitted to having falsified his mother’s Air France identification card, which the airline said was real. Jones said Jeannard had replaced his mother’s information with his own name and photograph; it identified him as an Airbus A380 crew member. Air France spokesman Cedric Leurquin described it as a bad fake of an Air France crew badge.
Jeannard, who is from La Rochelle, France, is a retired winemaker who was changing planes on his way from France to Florida, police inspector Sullivan said.
Jeannard at one point remarked that he “hated Americans,” police said, but investigators have not found any link to terrorism, a federal law enforcement official said.
The FBI, Federal Aviation Administration and Transportation Security Administration are joining the Philadelphia police in the investigation.
US Airways declined to comment.
— CNN’s Susan Candiotti, Michael Martinez and Jim Kavanagh contributed to this report.