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​Pilot Sentenced After Watching Porn During Flight

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​Pilot Sentenced After Watching Porn During Flight

A retired Southwest Airlines pilot has been sentenced to one year of probation after pleading guilty to exposing his genitals to a female first officer and watching porn during a flight from Philadelphia to Florida last year.

Michael Haak, 60, apologised for his actions as he was sentenced to one year of unsupervised probation and a $5,000 (£3,524) fine.

Haak said in the remote hearing on Friday 28 May: "It started as a consensual prank between me and the other pilot. I never imagined it would turn into this in a thousand years."

According to Haak's plea agreement, he was the captain of the flight travelling from Philadelphia International Airport to Orlando International Airport on 10 August 2020.

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He was assisted by a female first officer, who Haak had never met before the flight.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

In a press release, the Department of Justice said: "Haak admitted that, after the aircraft had achieved cruising altitude, Haak got out of the pilot's seat, and while still in the cockpit of the plane, intentionally disrobed and viewed pornographic media on a laptop computer.

"As the plane continued its flight, Haak further engaged in inappropriate conduct in the cockpit, as the First Officer continued to perform her duties as an assigned aircrew member."

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The first officer submitted a statement to the court, but did not speak during the hearing, with US Magistrate Judge J. Mark Coulson telling Haak that his actions had had a traumatic effect on the co-pilot, and could have impacted the safety of passengers and other co-workers.

Assistant US Attorney Michael Cunningham said Haak 'had a duty to comport himself in a much more responsible manner', adding: "This is not the kind of aberrant behavior that anyone should accept."

Cunningham said the first officer 'unfortunately suffered some consequences' as a result of the incident that Haak 'didn't have anything to do with', but did not elaborate on the nature of this.

The prosecutor added: "She had a right not to be subjected to this kind of behaviour, regardless of what may have motivated it or prompted it."

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In April, Haak was charged in Maryland because it was one of the states that the aircraft flew over that day.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

He was charged with intentionally committing a lewd, indecent or obscene act in a public place, a misdemeanour punishable by a maximum of 90 days in jail.

Federal prosecutors then agreed to recommend a sentence of probation, without requiring Haak to register as a sex offender.

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Southwest said in a statement that the airline 'does not tolerate behaviour of this nature and will take prompt action if such conduct is substantiated'

Spokesperson Chris Mainz said Southwest only learned of Haak's behaviour after he voluntarily left the airline.

He added: "Nonetheless, Southwest did investigate the matter and as a result, ceased paying Mr. Haak any benefits he was entitled to receive as a result of his separation from (the airline)."

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: flight, Pilot, News, US News

Jess Hardiman
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