United States airline worker steals plane, takes it for flight before crashing it

A Horizon Q400 airplane

Calling himself "a broken guy", a 29-year-old Horizon Airlines employee stole an empty Bombardier Q400 turboprop Friday night and flew loops and rolls before he was killed in a crash on a remote island outside Seattle.

"You couldn't even tell it was a plane except for some of the bigger sections, like the wing section", Eckrote said.

"This is probably jail time for life, huh?" he later asks, according to a recording provided by the Seattle Times.

"There might need to be a procedure in place where if you're not a pilot, you're not allowed on the plane unless there is someone there responsible for the aircraft", airline security expert Jeff Price said.

Federal investigators say a stolen Horizon Air turboprop plane broke into many pieces when it crashed into an area of thick brush on a small island in the Puget Sound.

Sea-Tac Airport confirmed via Twitter that an airline employee conducted an unauthorized takeoff of a Horizon Air Turbo Prop without passengers on board. He doesn't know if doing them would be the way to go.

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"We are working background on him now", the sheriff's department tweeted. It's going to disappoint them to hear that I did this.

Russell, nicknamed Beebo, was a ground service agent who worked for the airline for 3.5 years and had full security clearance.

In radio traffic, Russell told air traffic controllers he was a broken guy and had a few screws loose, and police described him as suicidal.

USA investigators found Sunday the Horizon Air passenger plane stolen by a troubled Seattle airport worker smashed to pieces on a sparsely populated island as his family reacted with "complete shock", CNN reported.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) scrambled F-15C fighter jets from a military base in nearby Portland to tail the Q400 and try to direct the rogue aircraft out towards the Pacific Ocean, with initial fears it could be an act of terrorism.

- Strategic Sentinel (@StratSentinel) August 11, 2018Stolen horizon airplane crashed into Ketron island.

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He said:"I wouldn't know how to land - I wasn't really planning on landing it".

Horizon Air is part of Alaska Air Group and flies shorter routes throughout the US West.

The company's CEO Brad Tilden addressed the incident in a statement, saying, "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".

After the spectacular theft of a 76-seat plane from the Seattle airport by a ground crew employee, authorities there are talking to counterparts around the country about how to prevent such insider security breaches. "Our heart is heavy for the family and friends of the person involved", Tilden said in a statement Saturday.

A Coast Guard spokeswoman said the agency was responding to a report of a smoke plume and possible plane crash.

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