Officials from United Airlines and the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) have started investigating an incident involving one of the airline company's pilots who had allegedly flushed live bullets down a toilet during a scheduled flight to Germany.
Karen May, a spokesperson for United Airlines explained that under a federal program created after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, airline pilots in the United States are allowed to carry guns on domestic flights for protection against potential hijackings.
She said that the reported pilot did not bring his gun during an international flight from Houston to Munich on June 23 because of the European country's strict law against carrying firearms, but he forgot to remove the ammunition from his bag.
The pilot then proceeded to dispose of the bullets by dumping them into one of the plan's toilets and flushing them before they reached Germany.
While the United Airlines captain failed to dispose of the ammunition correctly, May said that it is likely that he will not face any criminal charges.
TSA officials have confirmed that they are conducting an investigation regarding the alleged incident, but they declined to provide additional information on the matter.
The airline company has also refused to name the pilot captain in question.
May said that the pilot still works for United Airlines, but she did not mention whether he had been suspended.
"We are investigating," May said. "I can't give any details about his status other than he is still with us."
Reports of the incident were first made by The Aviation Herald, stating that a flight attended on board the international flight found 10 bullets in a garbage bin and informed the pilot captain about it.
The Herald said that the pilot went on to flush the ammunition down the toilet and reported it to authorities in Germany when he realized that the flight attendant would report the discovery of the bullets.
Once they reached Munich, the plane was escorted to an isolated area of the airport where the passengers were able to get off. The waste tanks of the aircraft were then emptied in order to locate the flushed ammunition.
Photo: Jim Larrison | Flickr