The 76-seater plane took off with out authorization Friday round eight p.m. native time with a Horizon Air employee on the controls, airport officers tweeted.
The unidentified 29-year-old floor service agent was pronounced lifeless after the crash, Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor stated.
Authorities initially recognized the person as a mechanic however have since then stated he was a floor service agent. As a floor service agent, staff work directing plane for takeoff, gate strategy and de-icing planes.
“Our hearts are with the families of the individual aboard as well as all of our Alaska Air and Horizon Air employees,” stated Constance von Muehlen, the airline’s chief working officer.
The regional airline relies within the Seattle-Tacoma airport and it is owned by the Alaska Air Group.
The incident was not thought-about terrorism, the FBI’s Seattle workplace tweeted.
The employee “was doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills caused crash into Island,” sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer tweeted.
Two F-15 jets chased the plane
Within minutes of the plane’s takeoff, the army scrambled two F-15 jets from Portland to observe the plane authorities stated. They pursued the plane earlier than it went down on Ketron Island between Tacoma and Olympia.
“Pilots kept plane out of harms way and people on ground safe,” the sheriff’s workplace tweeted. It stated the jets weren’t concerned within the crash.
In a number of tweets, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee thanked the fighter pilots who have been “ready to do whatever was needed to protect us.”
“I want to thank the Air National Guard from Washington and Oregon for scrambling jets to keep Washingtonians safe. Those pilots are trained for moments like tonight and showed they are ready and capable,” he wrote.
Witnesses described the surreal scene after the plane left the airport. John Waldron was strolling alongside a path close to the bay when he observed the 2 army jets following a plane that seemed to be doing acrobatics.
“I thought they were practicing for an air show,” he stated.
After the plane approached Ketron Island, Waldron noticed a thick column of smoke adopted by a loud explosion.
“Everyone was literally frozen in place muttering about what possibly happened,” he stated.
Kethleen Reichel stated she watched the planes cross by for about two minutes.
“My husband and I are recently former Boeing employees and we were wondering why a jet was near the passenger airplane,” she stated. “We heard the jet because our windows were down while we were waiting in the ferry line to go to Anderson Island which is adjacent to Ketron Island.”
‘Let’s attempt to land that airplane safely’
In audio recordings, air site visitors controllers may very well be heard making an attempt to information the person to land the plane.
“Congratulations, you did that, now let’s try to land that airplane safely and not hurt anybody on the ground,” an air site visitors controller stated.
The man responded: “Awwww-right… dammit.. I don’t know man! I don’t know! I don’t want to. I was kinda hoping that was gonna be it. Ya know?”
The change occurred through the flight however the timing of the dialog is unclear.
Airport was briefly shut down
The plane was taken from a upkeep place and was not scheduled for a passenger flight, stated Gary Beck, the airline’s president and chief govt officer.
It crashed about an hour later after it was stolen, and didn’t hit any floor buildings.
Brad Tilden, the chief govt officer of Alaska Air Group — the airline’s dad or mum firm — stated a number of federal companies are investigating the incident.
“We’re working to find out everything we possibly can about what happened, working with the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the National Transportation Safety Board. We are giving those investigators our full support and cooperation,” Tilden stated in a assertion.
Normal operations on the airport have been interrupted briefly however have resumed, the airport stated.
The plane was a Q400, a Bombardier turboprop plane. The airline has about 40 Q400s in its fleet.
CNN’s Paul Murphy contributed to this report.