Wednesday, 15 August, 2018

Suicidal US man who stole Alaska Airlines plane had airport credentials

Airliner takes off without authorization at Sea-Tac crashes in Puget Sound	 	 	 			A Horizon Q400 | Source Alaska Airlines Airliner takes off without authorization at Sea-Tac crashes in Puget Sound A Horizon Q400 | Source Alaska Airlines
Priscilla Morrison | 12 August, 2018, 16:44

According to the Seattle Times, air traffic control, who referred to the man by what is believed to be his first name, tried to encourage him to land.

At one point, an air traffic controller advises he should land at the airfield of the nearby military base, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the Times reported. "Pilots kept the plane out of harm's way and people on ground safe", the sheriff said on Twitter. "Just a broken guy, got a few screws loose, I guess".

On Saturday, investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board, FBI, and Alaska Airlines - which operates Horizon Air - travelled to the crash site, which is on a sparsely populated wooded island that is only accessible by ferry.

Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff's Department, said on Twitter that the man was suicidal and there was no connection to terrorism.

A plane that reportedly took off without permission has sparked a major security incident at Seattle-Tacoma global airport.

A 3 ½ year employee of Horizon Air had specialized training and higher-level security clearance, helping him carry out his plan to steal a Horizon Air passenger jet from its parking spot at Sea-Tac Airport on Friday evening.

Horizon Air is part of Alaska Air Group and operates shorter routes throughout the US West.

Horizon Air COO Constance von Muehlen said she believed the plane had been taken by "a single Horizon Air employee" and that no other passengers or crew were on board.

Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor called it a "joyride gone terribly wrong". The aircraft's unpredictable flight pattern terrified onlookers, who got photo and video footage of the plane's ill-fated excursion.

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President Donald Trump was briefed and the White House praised authorities´ quick response to the crisis.

"Until the Federal Bureau of Investigation has the opportunity to get better background on the person, find out what motive they had, it's a little too early to make a determination on what the objective was", Debra Eckrote, the NTSB's western Pacific region chief, said at a news conference.

One user tweeted, "Some dude stole a plane from #Seatac (Allegedly), did a loop-the-loop, nearly crashed into #ChambersBay, then crossed in front of our party, chased by fighter jets and subsequently crashed".

The cause of the crash wasn't immediately known but authorities said the F-15s did not bring the plane down. It's going to disappoint them to hear that I did this.

"He was a nice guy", Kaelin said.

Normal operations at Sea-Tac resumed around 9:30 Friday night. There is now a background check being done on him to see if a possible motive can be found.

The married airport employee, 29, "hijacked" the Alaska Airlines plane before performing stunts in the sky as he was tailed by fighter jets today.

"No security violations were committed", said Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden. The conversations he had with air traffic control doing his time in the air have also been released. In one video shot by a witness on the ground, a man can be heard exclaiming that the pilot "just did a loop-the-loop".

Gov. Jay Inslee thanked the Air National Guard from Washington and OR for scrambling jets and said in a statement "there are still a lot of unknowns surrounding tonight's tragic incident". "Military jets were scrambled from Portland, but it does not appear that these jets were involved in the crash of the Horizon aircraft".

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