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Airline worker who stole aircraft from SeaTac Airport was ‘approved’ to be close to craft, officers say, citing ‘no safety violations’


The airline worker who stole a aircraft for an “unauthorized flight” at Seattle-Tacoma Worldwide Airport on Friday earlier than crashing was in a position to “legitimately” entry the realm the place the craft was held,  officers stated in a information convention on Saturday. They stated they suppose he was the one individual aboard.

“All of us at Alaska and Horizon are deeply saddened by final night time’s unauthorized flight with the Horizon Q400 plane that resulted within the lack of life for the person concerned,” stated Brad Tilden, chief govt of Alaska Airways. “All 23,000 of us need to specific our honest sympathy to his household, his family members and his co-workers.”

On the information convention, officers with the FBI, Alaska Airways, Horizon Air and the airport (SeaTac) provided an replace on how they suppose occasions unfolded. 

This photo taken from video provided by Courtney Junka shows the stolen Horizon Air turboprop plane flying over Eatonville, Wash., Friday, Aug. 10, 2018.  Officials say an airline employee stole an empty Horizon Air turboprop plane with no passengers aboard, and took off from Sea-Tac International Airport in Washington state on Friday night before crashing into a small island. The Pierce County Sheriff's Department says preliminary information suggests the crash occurred because the 29-year-old man was "doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills."  (Courtney Junka via AP)

The aircraft was witnessed flying over houses on August 10, 2018.  (Courtney Junka by way of AP)

Whereas refraining from confirming reviews of the employee’s id, officers stated he was a floor service agent for Horizon Air and had been employed there for greater than three years. Horizon is a subsidiary of Alaska Airways. He had undergone quite a few background checks and “was absolutely credentialed,” officers stated.

The person concerned was recognized as Richard Russell, a U.S. official briefed on the matter informed The Related Press. The official wasn’t approved to debate the matter and spoke on the situation of anonymity.


“He had entry to that space legitimately,” stated Mike Ehl, director of operations at SeaTac. “It’s contained in the safety fence, and so no safety violations had been dedicated.”

Previous to the episode, which started round 7:30 p.m. native time, the Q400 plane was eliminated “from a upkeep place and was not scheduled for passenger flight,” an official stated. There is no such thing as a indication that the employee had a pilot’s license, and officers aren’t certain how “he achieved the expertise that he did.”

The person seems to have been the one individual on the aircraft, an FBI official stated, including that this hadn’t but been “confirmed that on the crash website.”

The FBI is main the investigation, officers stated.


“Security is our No. 1 purpose. There’s nothing extra vital to us,” Tilden emphasised. “Final night time’s occasion goes to push us to study what we will from this tragedy in order that we will guarantee this doesn’t occur once more at Alaska Air group or at some other airline.”

The Horizon Air, 76-seat turboprop aircraft crashed on Ketron Island, southwest of Tacoma, Wash. There was no connection to terrorism, authorities stated.

“An airline worker performed an unauthorized takeoff with out passengers at Sea-Tac; plane has crashed in south Puget Sound. Regular operations at Sea-Tac Airport have resumed,” stated an airport tweet.

Roughly 75 flights had been delayed over the state of affairs, 9 had been diverted to different airports and 5 had been canceled; greater than a dozen had greater than two-hour delays, Ehl stated on the information convention.

The person who flew the aircraft was described as a 29-year-old “suicidal male” who “acted alone,” in line with the Pierco County Sheriff’s Workplace.

Fox Information’ Kathleen Joyce, Bradford Betz and The Related Press contributed to this report.

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