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Unthinkable Mid-Flight Scare: Pilot’s Attempt to Shut Down Engines Leads to 83 Counts of Attempted Murder

YIKES! It’s not every day you hear about a pilot attempting something as harrowing as shutting down the engines mid-flight. But that’s exactly what happened on Horizon Air flight 2059 (a regional carrier for Alaska), flying from Everett (PAE) to San Francisco (SFO) with an Embraer E175. In an alarming turn of events, an off-duty pilot, Joseph David Emerson, found himself in the jump seat, that seat inside the cockpit reserved for deadheading crew or other authorized individuals.

Emerson allegedly made a run for the engine shutoffs in an apparent attempt to crash the aircraft with everyone on board. Luckily, the flight ended up diverting safely to Portland International Airport (PDX), and the situation was brought under control. It’s unclear who subdued Emerson, but given that the cockpit door is locked from the inside, it’s likely the on-duty captain and first officer played a crucial role in containing the situation.

If you’re curious to hear just how it went down, there’s an audio recording available on LiveATC. At 10:56 on the recording, you can hear the captain notifying air traffic controllers that the pilot in question had been subdued and was now located in the back of the aircraft. They also requested law enforcement to meet the flight upon landing.

Upon landing, Emerson was promptly arrested, and the charges against him are nothing short of jaw-dropping. According to the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office website, he’s facing a laundry list of legal troubles:

  • 83 felony counts of attempted murder
  • 83 misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment
  • 1 felony count of endangering an aircraft

Alaska Air Group issued a statement, thanking their crew for professionally handling the situation. They also expressed their appreciation for their passengers’ calm and patience throughout the event. Kudos to the crew for keeping their cool during this extremely tense situation.

The crew secured the aircraft without incident. All passengers on board were able to travel on a later flight. 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.

Statement by Alaska Air Group

This incident underscores the critical importance of ensuring that those with cockpit access are trustworthy beyond reproach, and there’s not even an appearance of a doubt as to their trustworthiness and professionalism. Will this alarming episode prompt changes in the industry to prevent similar incidents in the future? It’s a question worth pondering.

One possible outcome could be the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reevaluating the use of jump seats and perhaps even banning nonessential personnel from occupying them. This, however, would likely require airlines to remove one seat from their inventory on all future flights, potentially resulting in some involuntary rebookings for passengers who already had their tickets. And let’s face it, this could lead to a rise in airfares – but safety is the #1 concern, always.

In the wake of such a shocking event, we can only hope for a thorough review of security measures and procedures to ensure the safety and trustworthiness of those entrusted with the lives of passengers. After all, the skies should remain the last place we expect such chilling surprises.

h/t Running with Miles, KATU Channel 2

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