Sen. Cantwell calls for Congressional hearing after plane stolen from Sea-Tac

Aug 14, 2018, 7:48 AM | Updated: 12:18 pm

Richard Russell’s bizarre flight in a stolen plane is triggering a lot of questions about how it happened. On Monday, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the ranking member of the aviation subcommittee, said she wants a Congressional hearing.

“It’s clear now that getting access to equipment has become an issue and we need to make sure we’re securing those assets during the time that they’re not being flown and figure out what is the best way to do that,” Cantwell said.

RELATED: How, why Richard Russell easily accessed an airplane
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Port of Seattle commission president Courtney Gregoire said at Sea-Tac Airport, all security protocols were followed.

Russell was a credentialed and vetted Horizon Air employee who had passed a 10-year background check.

On Friday, he stole a Q400 and took it on a one-hour, 15-minute flight, complete with barrel rolls.

“Got a few screws loose, I guess,” Russell told air traffic controllers.

Russell died when the plane crashed on Ketron Island.

“I think this is really, truly a one-in-a-million experience. That doesn’t mean we can’t learn from it and ensure this type of tragedy doesn’t happen again,” Gregoire said.

Sea-Tac officials say they already have an extra layer of screening for credentialed employees.

Just a few years ago, employees entered secure areas using only codes and biometrics, but for the last 18 months, they now also go through physical screening similar to a TSA checkpoint.

At cargo entrances, truck drivers must leave their vehicles for inspection.

“We added employee security screening, physical screening like you experience when you go through and travel through this airport. We’re one of the only airports in the country to do that and we took that voluntary leap,” Gregoire said.

Sea-Tac added employee screening in 2016 after a credentialed baggage handler in Atlanta was arrested for smuggling guns onto flights to New York.

By: Graham Johnson, KIRO 7

Local News

(Photo by Craig F. Walker via Getty Images)...
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Sen. Cantwell calls for Congressional hearing after plane stolen from Sea-Tac