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Authorized Person in Horizon Air Cockpit Attempts to Shut Down Both Engines Inflight

The flight diverted to Portland and was met by law enforcement

A Horizon Air E175 at Paine Field outside Seattle. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Katie Bailey)

A Horizon Air flight operating from Snohomish County Airport/Paine Field near Seattle, Wash. to San Francisco diverted to Portland on Sunday evening after an authorized person in the cockpit attempted to shut down both of the airplane’s engines while in flight.

Horizon Air flight 2059 departed Paine Field around 5:30 p.m. local time and was able to reach a cruising altitude of 31,000 feet when the incident occurred.

The perpetrator was subdued, removed from the cockpit, and placed in handcuffs before landing. The pilots remained in control of the aircraft for the entire sequence. It is unclear whether a struggle ensued or how much effort the pilots needed to maintain control.

The flight, operated by an Embraer E175, was met by law enforcement upon arrival in Portland, Oregon. Horizon parent company Alaska Airlines reports that the incident is under investigation, though it did not identify the person allowed to fly in the cockpit with the crew or whether they were an Alaska Group employee.

The flight landed in Portland 51 minutes after departure, and passengers were rebooked onto other flights.

“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,” one of the flight’s pilots told ATC. “We want law enforcement as soon as we get on the ground and parked.”

“We are grateful for the professional handling of the situation by the Horizon flight crew and appreciate our guests’ calm and patience throughout this event,” Alaska said in a statement.

The cause of the incident is as of yet unclear. A preliminary report should be issued in the coming weeks.

According to The Air Current’s Jon Ostrower on Twitter (X), the FAA sent the following security notice to airlines on Monday: “Last night a significant security event occurred on a US Air Carrier involving a validated jump seat passenger attempting to disable aircraft engines while at cruise altitude by deploying the engine fire suppression system. The crew was able to subdue the suspect and was removed from the flight deck. The flight diverted and landed safely. The event remains under investigation by law enforcement, no further details will be provided at this time.”

Approved crewmembers such as pilots, flight attendants, and dispatchers can fly on a third seat called a jumpseat in an aircraft’s cockpit. When commuting between a base and their home or between different airline bases to operate a flight, crewmembers often use these jumpseats if no seats are available in the cabin. Each airline has its own rules about who gets priority to ride in the jumpseat if multiple crewmembers want to fly in a limited number of seats.

John McDermott

Author

  • John McDermott

    John McDermott is a student at Northwestern University. He is also a student pilot with hopes of flying for the airlines. A self-proclaimed "avgeek," John will rave about aviation at length to whoever will listen, and he is keen to call out any airplane he sees, whether or not anyone around him cares about flying at all. John previously worked as a Journalist and Editor-In-Chief at Aeronautics Online Aviation News and Media. In his spare time, John enjoys running, photography, and watching planes approach Chicago O'Hare from over Lake Michigan.

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