Horizon Air’s Embraer E-175 was en route from Everett, Washington to San Francisco when the incident occurred Sunday, parent company Alaska Airlines said in a statement. The plane, with 80 passengers on board, diverted to Portland, Oregon and landed safely.
According to Alaska Airlines, Horizon Air pilots reported a “credible safety threat related to an off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot seated in the cockpit jump seat.”
“The occupant of the jump seat tried in vain to disrupt the operation of the engines,” the agency said. “Horizon’s captain and co-pilot responded quickly, engine power was not lost, and the crew secured the aircraft without incident.”
Alaska Airlines did not identify the man, but Joseph Emerson, 44, was charged Monday by the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Department in Portland with 83 counts of attempted murder, endangering others and endangering flight.
LiveATC, a website that archives conversations between pilots and air traffic controllers, released an audio recording of the Horizon Air pilot describing the incident. “We took the man who was trying to cut the engines out of the cockpit,” he said. “He doesn’t seem to be causing any trouble behind now.”
“I think it’s under control. Other than that, yes, the police should be there once we land,” he added, describing the incident as a “Level 4” threat. , which includes trying to compromise aviation security.
An investigation into the facts is underway. Many airlines allow off-duty pilots to travel in the cockpit jump seat, which is the seat just behind the pilots.