FBI Seeks Motive After Seattle Airport Employee Hijacks Plane, Crashes

ZERO HEDGE reports:

Authorities on Saturday were seeking clues what drove an airline worker to steal an empty airplane from Seattle’s airport in a security scare that caused the scrambling of U.S. fighter jets and ended when the plane crashed onto a sparsely populated island. According to Reuters, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Transportation Safety Board were investigating the incident.

"We are working closely with the FBI, the NTSB and the FAA to better understand the circumstances of this unauthorized flight," said Alaska Air Group CEO Brad Tilden in a press conference quoted by Alaska Airlines’ Twitter handle.

“We’re working to find out everything we possibly can about what happened,” Tilden said in a statement.

As reported earlier, a Horizon Air ground service agent got into a Bombardier Q400 turboprop aircraft on Friday night in a maintenance area at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and took off, Horizon sister carrier Alaska Airline said. He flew for about one hour before crashing on Ketron Island in Puget Sound, 25 miles to the southwest.

The 29-year-old man, who has not been named but was identified in tower chatter as "rich", was suicidal and appeared to have acted alone, according to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, which said the employee was believed to have been killed in the crash, Reuters reported.

“Doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills caused crash into Island,” the Sheriff’s Department said on Twitter.

In leaked recordings of his conversations with air traffic controllers that were published online, the man said he was sorry to disappoint people who cared about him and described himself as a “broken guy.”

“Got a few screws loose, I guess,” he is heard saying in the recording. “Never really knew it until now.”

"Until the FBI has the opportunity to get better background on the person, find out what motive they had, it’s a little too early to make a determination on what the objective was,” Debra Eckrote, the NTSB’s western Pacific region chief, said at a news conference.

Two F-15 fighter jets took to the air from a base in Portland, Oregon, and were on the scene within minutes. The jets were armed but did not open fire, North American Aerospace Defense Command spokesman Cameron Hillier said by phone. Instead, the F-15 pilots and air traffic controllers tried to guide the plane west, away from populated areas, said Hillier. No one was hurt on the ground, authorities said.

It was unclear how the employee was able to taxi the plane on a runway and take off without authorization.