Off-duty pilot booked on 83 counts of attempted murder after allegedly trying to shut down plane's engines

In this 2007 photo, an Horizon Airlines airliner lifts off from a runway at Denver International Airport in east Denver. Alaska Airlines and its Horizon Air affiliate are canceling dozens of flights because their computer system failed. Company spokesman Paul McElroy says the two airlines canceled 60 flights by late Saturday morning, March 26, 2011, six hours after the outage started. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Horizon Airlines is operated by the same parent company that owns Alaska Airlines. (David Zalubowski / Associated Press)

An off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot was booked Monday on 83 counts of attempted murder after he tried to "disrupt the operation" of the engines of a plane he was aboard, according to the airline.

Joseph Emerson, 44, a pilot for Alaska Airlines, was on a Sunday flight operated by Horizon Airlines from Seattle to San Francisco when he tried to take over the aircraft, the airline said. Emerson was riding in the "jump seat," which is an additional seat that is often used for flight attendants to sit in during takeoff and landing.

Horizon Airlines is a regional carrier owned by the parent company that owns Alaska Airlines.

He made it into the cockpit before he was subdued, according to the Port of Portland Police.

The flight was diverted to Portland International Airport. It landed around 6:30 p.m., and Emerson was arrested by the Port of Portland Police.

"The jump seat occupant unsuccessfully attempted to disrupt the operation of the engines. The Horizon Captain and First Officer quickly responded, engine power was not lost and the crew secured the aircraft without incident," a spokesperson for Alaska Airlines said in a statement. "All passengers on board were able to travel on a later flight. We are grateful for the professional handling of the situation by the Horizon flight crew and appreciate our guests’ calm and patience throughout this event."

Along with the attempted murder counts — one for each occupant of the plane — Emerson was booked on 83 counts of reckless endangerment and one count of endangering an aircraft, according to online court records.

“We’ve got the guy that tried to shut the engines down out of the cockpit, and he doesn’t sound like he’s causing any issues in the back right now,” the pilot told Seattle-area air traffic controllers, the Mercury News reported. “I think he’s subdued. Other than that, we want law enforcement as soon as we get on the ground and are parked.”

The Port of Portland Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sign up for Essential California for news, features and recommendations from the L.A. Times and beyond in your inbox six days a week.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.