Off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot attempts to stop plane in mid-flight
An Alaska Airlines flight en route to San Francisco from Everett’s Pain Field was diverted to Portland on Sunday after officials said an off-duty pilot tried to shut down the plane’s engine.
Fox – Seattle
An off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot has been charged with 83 counts of attempted murder after allegedly trying to crash a plane in mid-flight.
The suspect, Joseph David Emerson, 44, was seated in the cockpit jump seat of Alaska Airlines Flight 2059 operated by Horizon Air, headed to San Francisco Airport from Paine Field Airport in ‘Everett, Washington, Sunday.
A jump seat is located in the cockpit and is usually occupied by off-duty pilots, NTSB, FAA or air traffic controllers in cases such as traveling between airports.
During the flight, Emerson allegedly attempted to pull the fire extinguisher handles on the engines, causing a “credible safety threat,” Alaska Airlines told USA TODAY in a statement. “Horizon’s captain and first officer responded quickly, engine power was not lost, and the crew secured the aircraft without incident,” the Alaska statement continued.
The incident caused the plane to be diverted to Portland International Airport, where it landed safely around 6:25 p.m. No injuries were reported. reportedaccording to FBI Portland on X, formerly Twitter.
“We have the guy who tried to shut down the engines from the cockpit. And he doesn’t seem to be causing any problems in the rear at the moment, and I think he’s under control,” one of the pilots said on audio captured by LiveATC.net. “Aside from that, we want law enforcement to be applied whenever we are on the ground and parked.”
“All passengers on board were able to travel on a later flight. We are grateful for the professional handling of the situation by the Horizon flight crew and appreciate the calm and patience of our guests throughout this event,” Alaska Airlines said.
Emerson was arrested by the Port of Portland and currently being held at the Multnomah County Detention Center, according to reservation files by the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office.
He faces 83 counts of attempted murder, which are felony offenses. He also faces 83 charges of reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor, and one count of endangering an aircraft, which is a class C felony.
There were 80 passengers and four crew members on board, according to the airline.
According to Alaska Airlines, “the event is under investigation by law enforcement authorities, including the FBI and Portland Harbor Police.”
“The FAA is working with Alaska and Horizon Airlines and supporting law enforcement investigations into the incident that occurred Sunday evening aboard a Horizon Airlines flight,” the FAA said in a statement.
In a statement, the FBI said it “can assure the traveling public that there is no ongoing threat related to this incident.”
Contributor: Associated Press
Kathleen Wong is a travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Hawaii. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.