Off-Duty Pilot Charged with 83 Counts of Attempted Murder for Allegedly Trying to Crash Passenger Jet

An off-duty pilot has been charged with 83 counts of attempted murder after he allegedly attempted to crash an Alaska Airlines passenger jet during a flight on Sunday night. The suspect, identified as Joseph David Emerson, 44, was seated in the cockpit behind the captain and first officer, according to an airline statement.

The flight, Alaska Airlines Flight 2059 operated by Horizon Air, was en route from Everett, Washington, to San Francisco, California, with 80 passengers on board. During the flight, the off-duty pilot, seated in the flight deck jump seat, reportedly made an unsuccessful attempt to disrupt the operation of the plane’s engines.

Crew members onboard reported the incident to air traffic control, and the flight was diverted to Portland, Oregon. Fortunately, the suspect was subdued without further incident. One of the pilots informed air traffic control that they had successfully apprehended the individual.

Passengers on board were initially unaware of the situation, believing it to be a medical emergency. The flight was eventually allowed to proceed to its intended destination in San Francisco, albeit with a delay.

Alaska Airlines has commended the Horizon flight crew for their professional handling of the situation and expressed gratitude for the passengers’ calm and patience.

The incident is now under investigation by the Port of Portland Police Department and the FBI. The FBI has assured the public that there is no continuing threat related to this incident.

In addition to attempted murder charges, Mr. Emerson faces 83 counts of reckless endangerment and one count of endangering an aircraft. He is currently in custody at the Multnomah County Detention Center pending further investigation. Authorities have not yet determined when he will be arraigned.

According to Alaska Airline’s statement, Emerson completed all medical certifications mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“Captain Emerson joined Alaska Air Group as a Horizon First Officer in August 2001. In June 2012, Emerson left Horizon to join Virgin America as a pilot. Emerson became an Alaska Airlines First Officer following Alaska’s acquisition of Virgin America in 2016. He became an Alaska Airlines Captain in 2019. Throughout his career, Emerson completed his mandated FAA medical certifications in accordance with regulatory requirements, and at no point were his certifications denied, suspended or revoked,” they wrote.

The FAA has also clarified that the incident is not connected to current world events, seeking to reassure the traveling public.


Information for this story was found via BBC, X, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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