NBCPhiladelphia.com - Rosemary Connors
A man was arrested Thursday for allegedly impersonating a pilot. Authorities say he got into the cockpit of a U.S. Airways plane moments before takeoff. Police say he had on an Air France uniform, had fake credentials, and was carrying phony flight plans. NBC10's Rosemary Connors reports from Philadelphia International Airport.
A French man impersonating a pilot was arrested at Philadelphia International Airport on Wednesday night after boarding a US Airways flight scheduled to fly to West Palm Beach, Fla.
Philippe Jernnard, 61, talked his way into a cockpit, saying he wanted to sit in one of its jump seats, according to the FBI. He told the captain and first officer that he was a pilot with Air France and knew how to fly 747, but they grew suspicious when he couldn't figure out how to open the jump seat.
He was arrested and and charged with criminal trespass, tampering with records, impersonating a person privately employed and presenting a false ID to law enforcement.
NBC10's Rosemary Connors talked with airport police Capt. Michael Murphy who says that Jernnard was wearing an Air France shirt, had an Air France bag and presented a ticket to the gate agent and walked onto the plane.
The gate agent told authorities that Jernnard had asked if there was any room in first class and was told "no."
According to the arrest report, Jernnard became irate after being told "no" and told her that he hated Americans and began to argue with her.
When the gate agent finished boarding the flight and went to close the plane's doors for takeoff, the arrest report states that she saw Jernnard sitting in the jump seat behind the captain's seat and his carry-on bag was stowed in the cockpit.
“She just assumes he takes his seat in coach and when she goes in to inform co-captain of the number of passengers on the flight that’s when she kind of recognizes he’s out of place,” said Philadelphia Police Lt. John Walker.
According to that arrest report, the agent told Jernnard that he couldn't sit there unless he filled out paperwork and the captain told him to return to his assigned seat.
Police say Jernnard started arguing and that's when they notified authorities.
After Jernnard was taken off the plane, police found an Air France ID card that had been changed to match his name.
He was set to be charged federally Friday morning.
In a statement released to NBC News, Air France denied that one of its employees attempted to board the flight and that Jernnard had a certified crew badge.
"This person was not wearing an Air France uniform, badge (Crew Member Certificate) or carrying an Air France crew baggage, the statement said. " Regarding the badge, it was a very poor fake badge, which in no way resembled the Air France Crew Member Certificate (CMC)."