The Federal Aviation Administration, FBI and US National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash of a Horizon Air Bombardier Q400 turboprop near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
The aircraft was stolen on 10 August at about 20:00h (local time) by an airline employee who was a ground service agent and made an unauthorised take-off without clearance. He was the only one on the aircraft and died in the accident.
Operations were temporarily shut-down and military jets were dispatched before the aircraft came down in woodland, near Ketron Island in Pierce County.
The aircraft was taken from a maintenance position and was not scheduled for passenger flight, crashed about an hour after taking off. No ground structures were involved at the crash site.
Horizon parent company Alaska Airlines tweeted that “a Horizon Air Q400 that had an unauthorized takeoff from SeaTac around 8pm has gone down near Ketron Island in Pierce County, WA. 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.”
Alaska Airlines chief executive officer (CEO), Brad Tilden said: “We are still gathering facts, but at this point we understand there was only one person aboard, an employee of Horizon Air, who was operating the aircraft. I want to share how incredibly sad all of us at Alaska are about this incident. Our heart is heavy for the family and friends of the person involved.
“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.
“With these investigations underway, our focus will remain on supporting the family of the individual involved, the broader Alaska and Horizon family, and our communities and guests.
“We will keep the public updated on our blog, where we’ll post updates as information becomes available.”
Horizon Air president and CEO, Gary Beck said: ““I The Horizon Air Q400, which was taken from Sea-Tac International Airport, was not scheduled to fly at the time of the incident. While we have not yet confirmed the identity of the employee, we have confirmed that all crew and passengers are accounted for.
“Air Traffic Control was in contact with the individual during the brief flight before it crashed on Ketron Island about an hour after it left Sea-Tac. No ground structures were involved in the crash.
“We are working closely with the authorities and our own safety teams to thoroughly understand this incident. I want to thank the employees of Horizon Air and our guests. Our primary objective is to do everything possible to support all of you.”