A pilot has been arrested in the United States after a loaded handgun was found in his carry-on luggage.
The 51-year-old pilot was arrested at Missouri’s St. Louis Lambert International Airport after Terminal 2 Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers found a 9mm pistol loaded with seven rounds of ammunition.
The First Officer pilot for Southwest Airlines was taken into custody for unlawful use of a weapon, shortly before he was expected to board a flight to Las Vegas.
SouthWest Airlines have put the pilot, who cannot be named, on administrative leave while the investigation is ongoing.
He will not face criminal charges as St Louis County failed to prove the pilot knew he was in possession of a firearm at the time.
“The warrant was refused today on Unlawful use of a Weapon, as we cannot prove he knowingly carried the firearm into the secure area,” Ed Magee, spokesman for Prosecutor Robert McCulloch, said in an email to St Louis Post-Dispatch.
“He is still subject to FAA regulations.”
According to TSA, fines up to $16,000 are given to those who bring firearms to airport checkpoints.
If someone is found with a gun, “99.99 per cent of the time they say, ‘Oops, I forgot it was in my bag,’” a TSA spokesperson told St Louis Post-Dispatch.
However, following 9/11 attacks, Congress has given permission for pilots to take loaded guns in the cockpit, but only if they have undergone TSA training. The pilot had no authorisation or permit to carry a gun on flight 1106 to Las Vegas.
The flight was delayed 45 minutes and passengers were given a $100 voucher, per TMZ.
Last year, 3391 firearms were seized by the TSA, and the Southwest pilot’s was the 46th found this year in St Louis.