Alaska Airlines Faces Lawsuit Over Attempted Engine Shutdown

In a recent turn of events, Alaska Airlines faces a lawsuit due to a concerning mid-flight incident. The legal action, representing 79 individuals, stems from the actions of an off-duty pilot on a flight from Everett, Washington, to San Francisco, California, on October 22, 2023.

An off-duty pilot, Joseph David Emerson, alarmed passengers when he attempted to shut down the plane’s engines while in the air. Fortunately, the on-duty flight crew intervened, averting potential disaster.

Facing serious accusations, Emerson has been charged with attempted murder and disrupting the flight crew. He has disclosed to authorities that he was experiencing a mental breakdown during the incident.

A statement by attorney Daniel Cameron from the law firm Stritmatter Kessler Koehler Moore emphasized the responsibility airlines have in ensuring pilot readiness. “The airlines need a wake-up call,” Cameron said, recognizing that while pilots often perform heroically, they are not exempt from personal crises.

Cameron pointed out that airlines have a duty to confirm pilots are fit for their responsibilities prior to takeoff. “Emerson’s statements while in the air and shortly after his arrest show that had the airlines here done so, he would never have been allowed aboard,” he added, highlighting the trauma suffered by passengers.

Further details revealed by Emerson included his depression and lack of sleep for two days before the flight. He also admitted to consuming psychedelic mushrooms two days prior to the event.

The Washington-based law firm also mentioned the critical role of pilots who occupy the cockpit’s jump seat, noting that they could be instrumental in an emergency. The firm’s press release highlighted previous instances where pilots’ knowledge led to intentional disasters.

Critically, the firm has pointed out the lack of any immediate effort by Alaska Airlines or Horizon Air to screen Emerson prior to boarding. They have yet to clarify any measures taken to assess Emerson’s fitness for being in the cockpit or to manage an emergency situation.

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