An off-duty pilot is facing 167 charges including 83 counts of attempted murder for allegedly trying to shut down engines on Alaska Airlines Flight 2059 mid-air. On Sunday, October 22, the flight bound for San Francisco made an emergency diversion to Portland, Oregon, after Joseph Emerson, pulled the fire extinguisher handles in an attempt to shut off the engines. Following a safe landing at Portland airport, Emerson was taken into custody, according to CBS News. At the time of the incident, there were 80 passengers onboard along with four crew members.According to the airline, the 44-year-old pilot was sitting in the cockpit’s jump seat and “unsuccessfully attempted to disrupt the operation of the engines.” This vile attempt was made after 30 minutes into the flight while the plane was approximately at 31,000 feet. The airline also explained that the fire handle he pulled onto activates the plane engines’ fire suppression system, which closes a valve in the wing, ultimately shutting down the fuel supply to the engine. Cailee Lyngaas, a spokesperson for the airline, said, “In this case, the quick reaction of our crew to reset the T-handles ensured engine power was not lost.”
Talking about Emerson, Lyngaas further said, “Throughout his career, Emerson completed his mandated FAA medical certifications in accordance with regulatory requirements, and at no point were his certifications denied, suspended or revoked.” However, the entire incident shocked those who knew him. The off-duty pilot’s neighbours have expressed their astonishment over this horrific act. They also noted that his wife, who is a swimming coach at a local college, is a doting mother to their children.