On Sunday evening, Alaska Airlines Flight 2059, which flies from Paine Field in Everett, Wash. to San Francisco, was diverted to Portland after an off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot, who was in the jump seat of the cockpit, tried to shut down the engines mid-flight.
The off-duty pilot was subdued and forced out of the cockpit and into the cabin, while the pilot of the jet headed to Portland and called for law enforcement to meet the plane, which is also operated as a Horizon Air flight.
One Joseph David Emerson, 44, was booked into jail shortly after 4 a.m., according to Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office booking information, as reported by KATU in Portland, after being arrested by the Port of Portland Police Department. He faces 83 counts of attempted murder.
“We’ve got the guy that tried to shut the engines down out of the cockpit,” the pilot had radioed to Portland air traffic control. “It doesn’t seem like he’s causing any issue at the back. I think he’s subdued … Other than that, we want law enforcement as soon as we get on the ground and parked,” the pilot said.
Alaska Air Group said in a statement that it was “a credible security threat related to an authorized occupant in the flight deck jump seat. The crew secured the aircraft without incident. All passengers on board were able to travel on a later flight.” The passengers were given vouchers to fly later.
“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,” the company said.
The flight, which leaves Everett daily at 5:35 pm for San Francisco, had 80 passengers onboard, with two pilots and two flight attendants. It is routine for airlines to allow an off-duty pilot who is moving from place to place into the cockpit, where he or she sits just behind the captain and first officer who are flying the plane.
Alaska Airlines owns Horizon, which is a major air carrier in the Western United States and Western Canada, and Embraer jets are a typical size of aircraft flown by Horizon.