Pilot Attempts to Shut Down Engines Of Alaska Airlines Flight While In Mid-Air

Sunday evenings Alaska Airlines flight 2059, a Horizon Air flight from Seattle’s Paine Field to San Francisco, diverted to Portland. It’s being reported that a a pilot was jumpseating and “tried to shut the engines down and crash the airplane.”

According to Alaska Airlines, “no weapons were involved, and the crew was able to secure the cabin without incident.”

Air traffic control conversations further elucidate the incident,

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. I think he’s subdued. Other than that we want law enforcement as soon as we get on the ground and parked.

The 5:25 p.m. departure made it onto the ground in Portland at 6:26 p.m. About an hour and a half later, passengers were re-accommodated on a new aircraft with different crew, and arrived at 10:18 p.m. or nearly three hours late.

The most common occupants of a jumpseat are an airline’s own pilots. Flight dispatchers may be able to as well. Jumpseats can also be occupied by pilots from other airlines under reciprocal jumpseat agreements. FAA inspectors have priority when reserved in advance for official duties.

Update: According to booking information (HT: aviation watchdog JonNYC) the jumpseating pilot was 44 year old Joseph Emerson who appears to be an Alaska Airlines pilot.

About Gary Leff

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  1. Mental illness is unfortunately increasingly prevalent in the Seattle area. Something in the water? Or maybe a geo-political protest?

  2. This kind of thing never happens on Delta. That is why they are able to generate premium revenue.

  3. Just glad DOT/FAA has a rule that a cockpit is never only occupied by 1 person. Seems this guy has serious mental issues not only because he tried it but doing so with 2 pilots sitting in front of him would make the effort almost always futile. Was on a foreign carrier flight last week in first and when went to forward lavatory captain was there BSing with FAs and pretty sure first officer was only one in the cockpit. Didn’t worry me but did bring back memories of planes where one pilot locked the other out and crashed the plane.

  4. Wow! Don’t we have regular psychological testing of pilots?

    Pilot should be tried for attempted murder of all passengers aboard and sentence to life without parole. End of story.

    If I had my druthers, criminal’s families (mother, father) would also be punished for their offspring’s crimes. But I suppose some people would think that extreme.

  5. Pilots do undergo regular testing, which is why such incidents are so rare. 1 incident every 5-10 years indicates the system is working.

  6. I suspect a whole lot of other pilots are nervous about the findings and potential changes to jumpseating procedures which have to come – as a result of incidents like this

  7. Lighten up Mark.

    Lots of FFDOs out there. Lucky for this guy there wasn’t one or he would have been simply killed.

    Also, depending on what aircraft it is, there are multiple switches to be moved in specific ways and specific sequences to shut down a turbojet once airborne. A properly vetted jump seater is not a threat. I flew military and airline for 44 years, was captain for over 20 years, retired now. Thinking this was likely an ERJ-170/190, on which I am typed.and have taught and given many checkrides. Based on your remarks, your ability to have the skills, pass the tests, endure the grueling days, oppressive monitoring and extensive time on the road away from family and in real dollars earn 40% less than in 1990 while spending 50% more time at work – maybe you should do something else.

    Yup, psych, physical, vision, simulator and line checks at least once a year – attrition is huge.

    Careful for punishing children for the sins of the father – makes you look extremist.

    Capt Steve
    Over 22,000 hours flying jets

  8. Thanks Joe. My husband was a career airline pilot, Continental. He flew with a great group of guys through out his career. Within society now we have mental illness in the headlines. Derangement syndrome.

  9. It’s all pilots. It could just as easily have been one of the flying pilots. If some type of jumpseat ban came down, then you are guaranteeing that the next time someone lost their shit there would only be one other pilot to fight them off while trying to simultaneously fly the plane. I’d much rather have another pilot on the Jumpseat to help me vice dealing with that shit by myself. I’m not advocating for any jumpseat changes, as this is a one off incident, just saying that if anyone were to be for a change on the grounds of a “rogue” pilot, it should be to mandate a jumpseater, not eliminate one.

  10. @Mark: are you watching too many Asian wuxia fantasy dramas? Where all the relatives of 7 generations are killed because of the sins of one family member?

  11. There are two kinds of people on this planet, you’re as giver or a TAKER…well now, what do we have here ???

  12. Mental illness obviously…always struck me as funny when airline employees act self righteous about having to go through security…multiple incidents similar to this have occurred by airline employees….the suicide in Europe is just the most recent….a disgruntled FedEx pilot jumpseating attacked the crew with the onboard ax …a PSA employee brought down BAE 146 in California, a Horizon ramp worker soled a Dash 8 400 into the ground….there are others. Mental illness doesn’t take into account what you do or where you work or live. It will be interesting to see if there were any red flags about this guy preceding this….social media threats, history of violence etc…was he about to be terminated?
    Simple fact is there is not enough help for the mentally ill and frankly too many people can hide behind expressions of violence as their personal rights to their opinion….

  13. I might add after a 40+ airline career that the overwhelming majority of pilots are not nutcases!… Given the nature of their job,…..it requires a certain skill level to attain to even be considered, they then are subjected to much training throughout their career and finally everything they do is subject to continual peer review (by their crew, they never work or train alone) they likely have a much lower incidence of mental illness then the general population. That said, no profession is immune from Mental Illness…as we have seen, even a former President of the United States can be be quite delusional!

  14. Mental illness is real and until our society starts facing that fact, it will only grow worse. School shootings and other disturbances involving violence are never addressed as what they are. The outright hatred demonstrated in today’s society and excused as peaceful demonstrations is abhorrent to say the least. Yet nobody calls it for what it really is and so it continues. It is time to take the blinders off and quit patting these people on the head telling them everything will be ok. It will not be ok and it is not ok.

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