Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Off-duty pilot charged after alleged attempt to cause passenger jet crash

(BBC News) An off-duty pilot has been charged with 83 counts of attempted murder, after he allegedly tried to crash a passenger jet during a flight Sunday evening.

The suspect was sitting in the cockpit of an Alaska Airlines flight behind the captain and the first officer, according to an airline statement.

A police booking document named the suspect as Joseph David Emerson, 44.

The flight was on its way from Everett, Washington, to San Francisco, California, with 80 passengers aboard.

It was diverted to Portland, Oregon, and the suspect was subdued without incident, officials said.

In a statement, Alaska Airlines said the off-duty pilot was traveling in the flight deck jump seat, when he “unsuccessfully attempted to disrupt the operation of the engines.”

Crew members on Alaska Airlines Flight 2059 reported the incident to air traffic control.

In a recording of air traffic control communication, one of the pilots was heard saying: “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.”

“I think he’s subdued,” the pilot added. He requested police presence “as soon as we get on the ground and parked.”

The flight, operated by Horizon Air, was scheduled to take off at 17:25 local time and arrive in San Francisco at 19:30.

However, the flight was diverted to Portland and eventually took off from there to its intended destination at 19:18.

“All passengers on board were able to travel on a later flight,” a statement by Alaska Airlines said.

“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,” the airline added.

The incident is being investigated by the Port of Portland Police Department and the FBI, Alaska Airlines said.

In a statement, the FBI confirmed it is investigating, and said it “can assure the traveling public there is no continuing threat related to this incident.”

In addition to the attempted murder charges, Emerson faces 83 counts of reckless endangerment and one count of endangering an aircraft.

On Monday, the Federal Aviation Administration sent guidance to U.S. air carriers that the incident was “not connected in any way, shape, or form to current world events.”

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