An airline ground worker at Atlanta International Airport found a handgun onboard a Delta Air Lines plane after the aircraft’s pilot left it in the cockpit.
In an email to NPR, a Delta spokeswoman said the carrier was “working with relevant authorities in their handling of this case and will conduct its own review”.
"Delta ground crews followed procedures and turned over tolaw enforcement an item that was found in the flight deck after the flight's arrival," the representative said, declining to comment on whether the pilot had been disciplined.
A Transportation Security Administration spokesman said the TSA had issued the weapon.
"Although we are not at liberty to discuss specific details, we can say that the public was never in harm's way,” the spokesman told NPR.
"TSA takes all allegations of policy and procedure violations seriously and when substantiated, appropriate action is taken."
According to Associated Press, specially trained pilots have been issued guns to protect their planes against attack since the terror attacks of 2001.
In related news, Delta Air Lines has been fined over $1 million (US$750000) for violating federal rules barring lengthy tarmac delays at US airports, the US Transportation Department said.
Reuters reports that American Airlines was also fined, nearly $1.5 million (US$1 million) for the same infringement.
In the US, carriers must allow passengers to deplane if they are stuck on the tarmac for longer than three hours for domestic flights, and four hours for international flights.
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