Off-Duty Pilot Charged With Attempted Murder After Trying To Shut Off Engines During Flight

PhotoCredit: KRON

Reports indicate that an off-duty pilot attempted to crash an Alaska Airlines passenger plane by trying to turn off the engine through engaging the Engine Fire Handle.

The fire suppression system on the plane has a T-valve handle for each engine. If those handles are fully deployed, a valve in the wing closes to shut off fuel that goes to the engine.

Luckily, the swift reaction from crew members led them to reset the T-handles, ensuring engine power was not lost.

The incident occurred on Sunday as off-duty captain Joseph Emerson was sitting in the flight deck jump seat which is located in the cockpit. He then is said to have said, “I’m not right,” prior to the occurrence.

The plane had been heading to San Francisco from Washington when it had to be diverted to Oregon. Emerson was supposed to be on a flight crew of a 737, leaving from San Francisco.

Emerson was apprehended in Portland and faces 83 counts of attempted murder. There were 80 passengers and four crew members on the flight.

Emerson had been a part of the company since 2001, left, and returned in 2016.

Prior to this incident, his certifications were never denied, suspended, or revoked.

It was reported that Emerson had a possible mental crisis, but an investigation is continuing.


  1. Jesus this is terrifying. I ontained my pilot’s license before i ever flew on a commercial plane and was terrified. I wanted to be in control. The FAA puts pilots through rigorous medical and mental evaluations. Somehow people can slip thriugh the cracks.

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