An airline pilot from Virginia was arrested and charged with attempting to board a plane with a concealed firearm Friday morning at Buffalo Niagara International Airport.
Brett Dieter, 52, of Barbersville, Va., faces a maximum 10 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine if convicted on the charge.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Dieter, who is employed by Piedmont Airlines, was scheduled to pilot a flight to LaGuardia International Airport in New York City. As Dieter proceeded through security, a Transportation Security agent observed what appeared to be a firearm concealed in his luggage.
Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority police officers then retrieved from Dieter's bag a Smith and Wesson .357 magnum revolver that was loaded with five rounds of ammunition.
Authorities believe Dieter also traveled with the gun in the same bag on Wednesday while piloting a Piedmont flight from Charlottesville, Va., to LaGuardia.
They said Dieter did not submit his bag for an X-ray screening at the Charlottesville airport. In addition, authorities said, Dieter piloted seven other flights over the course of two days, all with the firearm in his bag.
Transportation Security Administration officials Friday said they are reviewing the case with the U.S. Attorney's Office, NFTA police and the FBI.
According to an official statement released by the TSA, pilot access points vary from airport to airport, and at some airports, pilots are able to reach their aircraft through areas other than official checkpoints.
The TSA is investigating all of Dieter's flights prior to Friday's incident to determine how he managed to avoid security checkpoints at the other airports from which he flew.
Pilots and other flight crew are prohibited from carrying weapons aboard aircraft, according to the TSA. The only exception is for pilots who are members of the Federal Flight Deck Officer Program, of which Dieter is not.
Dieter made an initial court appearance Friday afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Hugh B. Scott and was released. He is scheduled to return to court at 10 a.m. Wednesday before Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy.
Piedmont Airlines subcontracts with US Airways.