Alaska Airlines pilot charged with 83 counts of attempted murder

October 25, 2023

A disturbing situation has come to light in Alaska regarding an airline pilot who allegedly attempted to shut down a plane's engines mid-flight.

According to the Washington Examiner, Alaska Airlines pilot Joseph D. Emerson, 44, now faces state and federal charges for attempting "to cut off fuel for the engines of an airplane en route to San Francisco from Washington state."

The Examiner detailed Emerson's past, noting that he's been in the aviation industry for some two decades.

The Department of Justice indicated that he currently resides in Pleasant Hill, California.

The Examiner noted:

He joined Alaska Air Group in 2001 as a first officer with Horizon. In 2012, Emerson left Horizon to work for Virgin America as a pilot. Once Alaska Airlines acquired Virgin America in 2016, Emerson became a first officer with Alaska. He worked for three more years to become a pilot for the airline in 2019.

Alaska Airlines released a statement Emerson, providing some details of his training and background.

"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," the airline wrote.

The airline added, "At no time during the check-in or boarding process did our Gate Agents or flight crew observe any signs of impairment that would have led them to prevent Emerson from flying on Flight 2059."

His most recent FAA medical examination was just a month ago, which he passed. He also held a first-class medical certificate, the highest obtainable rating.

Emerson was traveling in the flight deck jump seat when he reportedly entered the cockpit and attempted to shut off the fuel to the engines by pulling several fire extinguisher handles.

Luckily, the pilots were able to correct the situation and restore fuel to the engines, preventing a possible major catastrophe.

"Our crew responded without hesitation to a difficult and highly unusual situation, and we are incredibly proud and grateful for their skillful actions," the airline said.

Emerson was charged in Oregon with "83 counts of attempted murder, 83 counts of reckless endangerment, and one count of endangering an aircraft."

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