Authorities May Never Know Why Pilot Tried to Intentionally Crash His Plane

Photo: Getty Images North America

Chances are you saw the story about the Horizon Air flight that was forced to land in Portland, Oregon on Sunday night after a pilot attempted to shut the plane’s engines off mid-flight and crash the plane. The other pilots were able to quickly subdue off-duty pilot Joseph David Emerson, who was in the cockpit jump seat on the San Francisco-bound flight and is now facing 83 charges of attempted murder.

ABC News correspondent Alex Stone says authorities are now trying to wrap their minds around why Emerson wanted to take the plane down. He appeared on 710 WOR’s Len Berman and Michael Riedel in the Morning program to talk about whether they can figure out why Emerson did so in the first place.

“What he was going for were, there are key handles in the (cockpit) that are for fires in the engines,” Stone explained to Berman and Riedel. “They pull those and it shuts down the engines and puts out fire extinguisher chemicals to put out a fire in the engines, bur would’ve killed the engines in flight. They could have potentially restarted them. There’s some complications to that after pulling the fire extinguisher handles, but they were able to get him out of there.”

Authorities are now looking at this as an isolated incident and not as part of a broader picture, in light of recent world events; however, Stone says airlines are on the lookout for copycat incidents, regardless. “The FAA has said that there is no known connection to world events. The airlines have been warned by the FFA that, with everything going on in Israel and Iran and everything else, to be very aware right now and be on high alert… (but) this was not that.”

Still, “why?” is the predominant question, and Stone cautioned we may never be able to answer that. “There’s a lot of union rules that get involved, how deep they can go on that. Pilots have to go through a yearly physical, you know, it’s a normal physical, like we all go through… but it’s very along the surface. An FAA examiner, a doctor, can refer somebody to go a little bit more in depth, but typically they don’t go real in-depth at the annual physical, and airlines are restricted on what they can and can’t do when it comes to mental health.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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