Alaska Airlines plane crashes after unauthorised take-off from Seattle airport

11 August, 2018, 18:07 | Author: Lucy Floyd
  • The aircraft reportedly crashed near Ketron Island near the Chambers Bay Golf Course

An apparently suicidal mechanic stole an empty passenger plane from the Seattle-Tacoma airport late on Friday, took it for a brief flight then crashed it.

Federal authorities were searching on Saturday for what drove an airline worker to steal an empty airplane from Seattle's airport and crashing it into a nearby sparsely populated island, sparking a security scare that saw US fighter jets scrambled.

"We're working to confirm who was on board, we believe there were no guests or crew on board other than the person operating the plane", the airline tweeted. An Alaska Air spokesman said he did not have information about how the incident occurred.

An airline employee "conducted an unauthorised take-off" of an aeroplane carrying no passengers, then "crashed in south Puget Sound", Sea-Tac Airport officials said on Twitter.

"The President has been briefed on the incident involving a stolen plane from Sea-Tac Airport in Seattle and is monitoring the situation as information becomes available", press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

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He told authorities on the ground he "would like to apologize" to people who cared about him.

The plane was a Q400, a Bombardier turboprop plane.

Questions are now being asked as to how the man managed to gain entry to the plane, successfully taxi it down the runway and fly it for around 50 minutes before crashing.

A plane flies past a control tower at Sea-Tac International Airport Friday evening, August 10, 2018, in SeaTac, Wash. "I was kinda hoping that was gonna be it. Ya know?"

In audio recordings with air traffic controllers, the man said he did not want to disappoint them but that he was "just a broken guy, got a few screws loose, I guess".

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"I felt like we were on the ground and we were safe, we weren't in the sky while something was going on", he said after getting off the plane. "It clearly seemed immediately like there was a plane crash", he said.

"A joyride gone terribly wrong", Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor said during a news conference in Steilacoom, which is about 3 miles from the island.

Two F-15s and air traffic control operators helped steer the plane away from built up areas and out over the water before it crashed.

The airport also confirmed the plane wasn't carrying passengers.

Around 8: 15 p.m., multiple viewers of our sister station in Seattle, KING 5, called to report a hijacked airplane, saying an apparent pilot or airport worker took off with an aircraft.

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"Congratulations, you did that, now let's try to land that airplane safely and not hurt anybody on the ground", an air traffic controller said.

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