Off-Duty Pilot’s Attempt to Sabotage Flight Thwarted by Crew

On a flight from Seattle to San Francisco, an off-duty pilot aboard an Alaska Airlines aircraft attempted to shut down the plane’s engines. However, the crew members managed to restrain him, and the plane made a safe landing in Portland, Oregon, as reported by officials on Monday.


The off-duty pilot, identified as Joseph David Emerson, was arrested in Portland on Sunday. He was charged with 83 counts each of attempted murder and reckless endangerment, along with a single count of aircraft endangerment, as per the local prosecutor’s office. Emerson, aged 44, is expected to face formal charges in a Multnomah County court in Portland on Tuesday, where he is scheduled for an afternoon arraignment and plea entry, according to a spokesperson for the county district attorney.

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Alaska Airlines Flight 2059, operated by Horizon Air, a regional subsidiary of Alaska Air Group, left Everett, Washington for San Francisco on Sunday. However, due to a reported security threat, the flight was diverted to Portland. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) informed U.S. airlines via a notice that the off-duty pilot, who was flying as a “validated jump seat passenger,” tried to disable the engines of the Embraer 175 twin-jet by attempting to trigger the engine fire-suppression system while the plane was cruising.

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According to the FAA notice, the crew successfully subdued the suspect and removed him from the flight deck. Alaska Airlines confirmed that the engines were never disabled.

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