MYNORTHWEST NEWS

Flight from Everett diverted after off-duty pilot made ‘credible security threat’

Oct 23, 2023, 9:23 AM | Updated: 12:58 pm

flight diverted pilot...

(Photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

(Photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

A man is in custody facing 83 counts of attempted murder after he tried to shut down the engines of a plane flying from Everett to San Francisco Sunday evening.

The Horizon Air flight from Everett’s Paine Field Airport was diverted to Portland Sunday night after a person authorized to ride in the cockpit tried to shut down the jet’s engines. According to The Seattle Times, the security threat was an off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot traveling in the jump seat behind the pilot and co-pilot in the cockpit.

Authorities in Portland identified the man as Joseph David Emerson, 44, and he is currently in police custody at the Multnomah County Detention Center and is facing 83 counts of attempted murder, 83 counts of reckless endangerment, and one count of endangering an aircraft.

More news: Man arrested for stabbing outside Capitol Hill bar, 4 injured

One of the pilots told air traffic controllers that the man who posed the threat had been removed from the cockpit.

“We’ve got the guy that tried to shut the engines down out of the cockpit. And he — doesn’t sound like he’s causing any issue in the back right now, and I think he’s subdued,” one of the pilots said on audio captured by LiveATC.com, according to The Associated Press. “Other than that, we want law enforcement as soon as we get on the ground and parked.”

John Nance, a veteran airline captain, said that only pilots, or people with the Federal Aviation Administration, are usually allowed in the jump seat, and this is the first time he has heard of something like this happening.

“No, I’ve never heard of any kind of situation like this where someone on the jump seat with the authority to be there has created a disruption, certainly not tried to shut down the engine or whatever else is alleged,” Nance said to KIRO Newsradio. “To have someone in the jump seat, that’s a vetted individual with proper credentials, and this is not only not supposed to happen, I’ve never heard it happen before.”

In a statement, Alaska Airlines said that the crew was able to secure the aircraft without incident.

Alaska Airlines Flight 2059 operated by Horizon Air from Everett, WA (PAE) to San Francisco, CA (SFO) reported a credible security threat related to an authorized occupant in the flight deck jump seat. The crew secured the aircraft without incident. Following appropriate FAA procedures and guidance from air traffic control, the flight safely diverted to Portland International Airport. The event is being investigated by law enforcement authorities. We are grateful for the professional handling of the situation by the Horizon flight crew and appreciate our guests’ calm and patience throughout this event.

Those onboard the plane were later given a travel voucher and put on a later plane to San Francisco.

The incident occurred on a 76-seat Embraer 175 plane. Alaska Airlines did not immediately say how many passengers were on board.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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