A passenger aircraft crashed on an island in Puget Sound on Friday night time, not lengthy after a suspect performed an “unauthorized take-off” from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington state, officials stated.
Preliminary info says a “mechanic” stole a Horizon Air Q400 and the crash occurred as a result of the individual was “doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills,” the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department stated on Twitter.
Airport officials confirmed through social media that no passengers have been aboard the aircraft. They additionally stated that operations on the airport had resumed after being briefly halted.
The unauthorized pilot was described by the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department as a “suicidal male.” Some unconfirmed stories on social media stated he was believed to be an airline mechanic.
“Male is confirmed a suicidal male. Acted alone he is 29 year old Pierce county residence . We are working back ground on him now,” the sheriff’s division tweeted shortly earlier than 10 p.m. Pacific time.
Around 9:15 p.m. PDT, Alaska Airlines tweeted: “We are aware of an incident involving an unauthorized take-off of a Horizon Air Q400. We believe there are no passengers on board. More information as we learn more.”
Early stories indicated the suspect was chatting with air visitors controllers.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued a message quickly after the take-off:
“We cannot affirm something at the moment. We’re making an attempt to get correct details about what is definitely happening. Without confirming something, a stolen plane could be a safety difficulty.
“The FAA is not a security agency, although we work closely with other government agencies on security issues.”
Authorities reportedly tried to intercept the aircraft with an F-15 plane.
The U.S. Coast Guard was sending a 45-foot vessel to the crash scene after witnesses reported seeing a big plume of smoke within the air, Petty Officer Ali Flockerzi stated.
Horizon Air is a part of Alaska Air Group and flies shorter routes all through the U.S. West. The Q400 ix a turboprop plane with 76 seats.
Tower audio recognized the suspect as “Rich.”
Air vacationers and residents capable of see the aircraft in flight have been fast to submit messages on social media.
“Apparently someone stole a plane from SeaTac?” wrote one Twitter person. “Saw two fighter jets fly overhead then smoke.”
“Some dude stole a plane from #Seatac (Allegedly), did a loop-the-loop, ALMOST crashed into #ChambersBay, then crossed in front of our party, chased by fighter jets and subsequently crashed. Weird times,” wrote one other person.
This is a creating information story. Check again for updates.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.