An off-duty pilot, identified as Joseph David Emerson, has been charged with 83 counts of attempted murder after allegedly attempting to shut off the engines during an Alaska Airlines flight. The incident occurred on a flight scheduled from Everett, Washington, to San Francisco. Due to the situation, the plane was diverted to Portland following what the airline described as a “credible security threat related to an authorized occupant in the flight deck jump seat.”
Preliminary investigations suggest Emerson tried to pull the fire extinguisher handles linked to the engines. The flight crew acted swiftly, subduing Emerson, and handcuffing him to a seat. He was later taken into custody by the Port of Portland.
Besides the attempted murder charges, Emerson is also facing 83 counts of reckless endangerment and one count of endangering an aircraft. He was on his way to San Francisco where he was scheduled to be part of a 737 flight crew.
Alaska Airlines confirmed the off-duty pilot’s failed attempt to disrupt the engine operation while occupying the flight deck jump seat in the cockpit. They also highlighted that the captain and first officer responded promptly to ensure the engine power remained unaffected, and the aircraft was secured without any complications.
There were 84 individuals onboard, consisting of 80 passengers and four crew members.
The incident is currently under investigation by both the airline and law enforcement agencies, with the FBI emphasizing that there is no ongoing threat related to this incident. The FAA has also released a statement confirming their involvement and support in the investigations.