Alaska Pilot Indicted for Alleged Attempt to Shut Down Engines In Flight


NBC News reports the incident took place on a regularly scheduled flight on Sunday, October 22, 2023.


Pilot Allegedly Attempted to Stop Engines Using Shutoff Valves

Horizon Air Flight 2059 was scheduled to fly from Seattle Paine Field International Airport (PAE) in Everett, Washington to San Francisco International Airport (SFO). According to reports, an Alaska Airlines pilot was aboard the flight in the cockpit jumpseat. Horizon Air is regional subsidiary of Alaska Airlines.


Shortly after the flight started, the pilot – identified as 44-year-old Joseph David Emerson – allegedly tried to stop the Embraer 175’s engines by pulling a fuel shutoff switch. According to a statement by Alaska to NBC News: “The jump seat occupant unsuccessfully attempted to disrupt the operation of the engines…The Horizon Captain and First Officer quickly responded, engine power was not lost and the crew secured the aircraft without incident.”


Once pilot was subdued, the pilots flying the aircraft requested to be diverted to Portland International Airport (PDX) and have law enforcement available. In a recording of air traffic control radio uploaded to the YouTube channel “VASAviation,” the pilots told ground operators that Emerson was removed from the cockpit, reportedly handcuffed, and held at the jumpseat in the back of the aircraft until the flight landed. FlightAware records show the flight landed in Portland one hour after it took off.



Booking records show Emerson was arrested by Port of Portland Police and is currently being held without bond in the Multnomah County Jail on 167 counts. The charges against him include 83 of attempted murder, 83 of reckless endangerment, and one count of endangering an aircraft.


It is not clear if Emerson has been before a judge or entered a plea on any of the charges. Emerson is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.


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Feature image courtesy: formulanone via Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED


Ed. note: The aircraft depicted above is not necessarily the one involved in the incident. It is used for demonstration purposes.

Source: frugal travel guy

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