Jumpseat Passenger Tried To Crash Plane Mid-Flight, Officials Say

Not from the story. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Fiona McLoughlin Contributor
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An Alaska Airlines flight heading to San Francisco from Seattle was diverted Sunday night after an off-duty pilot authorized to be in the cockpit’s jumpseat allegedly tried to shut down the jet’s engines.

Joseph D. Emerson, an off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot, is facing 167 charges in total, according to the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office. The 44-year-old’s charges include 83 counts of felony attempted murder and one count of felony endangering an aircraft.

He was also charged with 83 counts of misdemeanor reckless endangerment.

Horizon Air flight 2059 departed from Seattle’s Paine Field at around 5:25 p.m. local time, according to View From The Wing. The plane landed in Portland an hour later, where passengers were able to get on a new aircraft with a different crew. They reached San Francisco nearly three hours later.

“A credible security threat related to an authorized occupant in the flight deck jump seat” was reported, according to an Alaska Airlines statement shared by the outlet. Horizon Air is a subsidiary of Alaska Air.

No weapons were involved, and the crew secured the cabin without incident, per the statement. (RELATED: Alaska Airlines Passenger Threatens ‘You All Are Going To Die Tonight’ During Flight To Chicago).

“We’ve got the guy that tried to shut the engines down out of the cockpit. It doesn’t sound like he’s got any issue in the back right now,” a pilot told air traffic controllers, per audio recorded by Live ATC. “I think he’s subdued. We want law enforcement as soon as we get on the ground and parked.”

Pilots, dispatchers and pilots from other airlines can ride in the flight deck jumpseat, according to The View From The Wing. Authorized aviation staff can sit in the jumpseat with the pilot’s permission, according to The Messenger.

Alaska Airlines has yet to say why Emerson was authorized to be in the cockpit, per the outlet.

The investigation remains ongoing.