PHILADELPHIA — A 61-year-old French man was arrested at Philadelphia International Airport and charged with impersonating a pilot after airline officials found him in the cockpit of a plane scheduled for takeoff, police said Friday.
The crew of a US Airways flight bound for West Palm Beach, Fla., found Philippe Jernnard of La Rochelle, France, in the jump seat behind the pilot on Wednesday evening and removed him after he became argumentative, police said.
Jernnard, who was a ticketed passenger, was wearing a white shirt with an Air France logo and had a black jacket with epaulets on the shoulders, police said. Officer Christine O’Brien said police also found him in possession of a counterfeit Air France crew member ID card.
It’s not clear how Jernnard got into the cockpit, but police said there’s no indication he meant any harm. A US Airways spokeswoman referred questions to the FBI, which confirmed it is investigating but declined to comment Friday.
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O’Brien said Jernnard initially became upset at the gate when he asked to be upgraded to business class.
“The (US Airways) employee gate agent told the male there was no space left in business class. He became irate,” then boarded the plane, O’Brien said.
Jernnard was charged with criminal trespass, forgery, records tampering, false impersonation of a person privately employed, and providing false identification to law enforcement. He remained behind bars pending a preliminary hearing scheduled for April 5. Federal charges are also expected.
Jernnard is represented by the Philadelphia public defender’s office, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In France, police in La Rochelle as well as the national police declined to comment, saying they are not allowed to disclose information about individuals.