Alaska Airlines on Tuesday shared its version of what happened when an off-duty pilot attempted to disable a flight in mid-air on Sunday night.
Meanwhile, the FBI is looking into whether the man had been using psychedelic mushrooms, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday.
What follows is the Alaska Airlines complete statement about what happened on Sunday:
“Alaska Airlines is committed to sharing as much information as we can while respecting the ongoing federal and state criminal investigations and court proceedings. We have reviewed the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Criminal Complaint pertaining to Captain Joseph Emerson and, like many, are deeply disturbed by what we have learned.
“On Oct. 22, Emerson approached Horizon Air Gate Agents overseeing the boarding process for Flight 2059. Following well-established, FAA-mandated practices to authorize a jump-seat passenger, our Gate Agent confirmed that Emerson was an off-duty pilot for Alaska Airlines. He was approved to join the flight as a passenger and was seated in the flight deck jump seat. All Gate Agents and Flight Attendants are trained to identify signs and symptoms of impairment.
“At no time during the check-in or boarding process did our Gate Agents or flight crew observe any signs of impairment that would have led them to prevent Emerson from flying on Flight 2059.
“The details in the DOJ affidavit describing the actions of our flight crew are consistent with our understanding of what occurred based on debriefings with each member of the flight crew. Upon exiting the flight deck, both Flight Attendants confirmed that Emerson was escorted by a Flight Attendant to the rear of the aircraft where Emerson was placed in wrist restraints and belted into the aft jump seat. Our crew also confirmed that Emerson attempted to grab the handle of the emergency exit during the aircraft’s descent before being stopped by a Flight Attendant.
“The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has a mandatory drug testing program for on-duty crew members that is administered by all airlines, including Alaska and Horizon consistent with our zero-tolerance policy for any substance abuse. This can include random testing before or after a flight, as well as reasonable suspicion testing of on-duty Pilots and Flight Attendants.
“On Oct. 22, Emerson was removed from service indefinitely and relieved from all duties at Alaska Airlines. Consistent with our pilots’ collective bargaining agreement, we are consulting with our partners in labor regarding his employment status.
“We are deeply proud of our Horizon flight crew and their quick actions both in the flight deck and in the rear of the aircraft. Working together, consistent with their training, they performed their critical roles exceptionally well, representing the best of their profession.”
Emerson faced his first court hearing on Tuesday. Watch the arraignment hearing in Portland here: