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Off-Duty Pilot Accused Of Attempting To Shut Down Plane Engines Mid-Flight Charged With 83 Counts Of Attempted Murder: Reports

  An off-duty Alaskan Airlines pilot riding as a passenger in the cockpit of a fully occupied flight from Everett, Washington, to San Franci...

 An off-duty Alaskan Airlines pilot riding as a passenger in the cockpit of a fully occupied flight from Everett, Washington, to San Francisco was reportedly arrested on Sunday after allegedly attempting to shut down the plane’s engines in midair.

Horizon Air flight 2059 departed Seattle Paine Field International Airport to the Bay Area of California on October 22 when the pilots were forced to divert the aircraft to Portland International Airport in Oregon because of “a credible security threat related to an authorized occupant in the flight deck jump seat,” Airline officials said in a news release reported by CNBC.

“The jump seat occupant unsuccessfully attempted to disrupt the operation of the engines,” the airline said in a portion of the news release reported by NBC. “The Horizon Captain and First Officer quickly responded, engine power was not lost and the crew secured the aircraft without incident.”

Pilots commonly hitch a free ride when traveling personally or professionally to another airport in a jump seat located in the cockpit just behind the captain and first officer flying the jet.

Airline officials reportedly said the crew followed Federal Aviation Administration procedures and guidance from air traffic control for the flight to safely divert to Portland International Airport and is being investigated by law enforcement authorities.

Audio recorded by revealed that Seattle-area air traffic controllers were alerted about the attempt to turn off the plane’s engines.

“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 issues in the back right now,” the pilot told Seattle-area air traffic controllers in audio recorded by “I think he’s subdued. Other than that, we want law enforcement as soon as we get on the ground and are parked.”

Upon arrival, the Port of Portland Police Department arrested Joseph Emerson, an off-duty pilot accused of trying to seize control of the Alaska Airlines flight filled with 80 passengers on board, including lap infants, two pilots, and two flight attendants in the passenger cabin, according to local media.


Emerson, 44, was charged with 83 felony counts of attempted murder, 83 counts of reckless endangerment, and one count of endangering an aircraft, according to Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office booking records.

It was not immediately clear why Emerson attempted to disrupt the flight. However, Alaska Airlines officials said the crew secured the aircraft without incident.

“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,” Alaska Airlines said.

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