Scary: Pilot Diverts Flight After Man in Cockpit Jump Seat Tried to Shut Down the Engines

by Anthony Losanno

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Alaska Airlines flight AS2059 between Seattle Paine Field International Airport (PAE) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO) diverted yesterday after the “credible security threat” of a jumpseater trying to shut down the aircraft’s engines midflight. The Horizon Air Embraer E175 landed safely at Portland International Airport (PDX), but not before the scary incident unfolded.

Audio recorded by Live ATC has the pilot telling air traffic controllers:

We’ve got the guy that tried to shut the engines down out of the cockpit and he doesn’t sound like he’s causing any issue in the back right now, I think he’s subdued. We want law enforcement as soon as we get on the ground and parked.”

The man in the cockpit’s jump seat tried to shut down both of the plane’s engines. The pilot’s removed him and had him sit in the cabin for the rest of the flight. He reportedly remained calm there.

While Alaska Airlines did not publicly comment, One Mile at a Time published the following internal memo:

On October 22, Alaska Airlines Flight 2059 operated by Horizon Air from Everett, WA (PAE) to San Francisco, CA (SFO) reported a credible security threat related to an authorized occupant in the flight deck jump seat. No weapons were involved, and the crew was able to secure the cabin without incident. Following appropriate FAA procedures and guidance from air traffic control, the flight safely diverted to Portland International Airport (PDX). the incident is being investigated by law enforcement authorities. All passengers onboard were reaccommodated on a later flight with a new crew and new aircraft. We recognize how concerning this incident must have been and we are deeply grateful to our crew for everyone’s professionalism throughout this experience.


This is an active investigation. We will share details as we are able. In the meantime, we ask that you respect the privacy of the crew involved and do not share crew lists or contact those involved.”

Authorized employees (usually other pilots) are allowed to ride in the flight deck with the permission of the captain. This includes both employees and those employed by other airlines. It has been learned (H/T: @JonNYC) that the man in question is an Alaska Airlines pilot named Joseph Emerson. His booking information is here.

Anthony’s Take: This is terrifying and could have had a much worse outcome. Thankfully, the pilots handled the situation. The man was met by law enforcement and detained. Details around the man’s condition, sobriety, and mental health have also not been released, but it makes you wonder what exactly was at play here to make him do something so stupid.

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