Alaska Airlines passengers sue it after off-duty pilot tried to kill them all

Originally published at: Alaska Airlines passengers sue it after off-duty pilot tried to kill them all | Boing Boing


Before 9/11 hearing celebs talking about being allowed to sit in the cockpit as a perk was disturbing. Now, reports of anyone who’s not supposed to be working winding up in there sounds like a security breach. Let’s see how the airline tries to justify this in court.


The jumpseater (“off duty pilot”) did not try to kill them all. At cruise altitude, the crew would have lots of time to restart one or both even if he’d managed to discharge the fire bottles. He’s clearly all done being a pilot - Impossible to regain medical certification after an “overt act” like that especially involving controlled substances. The jumpseater was just as qualified as the crew to be in that cockpit - he was commuting to or from his next trip!

Suing the airline is unlikely to work. Their butts are covered by the mentioned archaic attitudes within the FAA about pilot mental health. And those attitudes will just get worse, forcing pilots to hide mental health issues to save their career.

He did not succeed in killing them all. He may not have been able to in the first place. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t try.


He was scheduled to fly a different plane later that day, and was being flown to the airport where he was going to get in the cockpit of said plane.

From a security standpoint, “we all agree this person is approved to fly commercial airliners but won’t allow them to sit in a different cockpit in case he turns out to be the kind of crazy bastard who would intentionally crash a plane” doesn’t really make much sense.


Still, not on-duty for the one in question. Reasons for this pilot’s motivations/actions aside, there might be more than security issues exposed here. There are lots of professions where off-duty workers might be allowed access to places where they should not be, but it doesn’t mean they are covered in the same way. Your comment made me wonder if insurance companies have a different take on this. If companies/employers are exposed to more damages because of that, the access privileges extended to off-duty employees might change, too.


On balance, I’m sure airlines probably thought having a spare pilot around would be more of a bonus safety measure than a security risk. If a pilot or copilot was incapacitated due to medical emergency or something then the deadhead could step in to help. A rare circumstance, sure—but probably not as rare as a pilot suddenly trying to crash another airliner.


Strong disagree. If fire bottles are discharged in an engine the pilots should assume that engine is unusable for the rest of the flight. If one engine has to be shut down the aircraft should continue to its alternate/emergency airfield, depending on when the engine was shut down. After a few minutes of air moving through the defunct engine the pilot may attempt to restart the engine. There isn’t a guarantee that it will relight. If BOTH engines are shut down then pilots need to start looking for an airfield within gliding distance. Depending on altitude there may not be a lot of time, especially if the crew is too busy subduing somebody to properly fly the aircraft.


I hate things like this because it’s one of those crazy, “Fucked up things that’s never happened before and now we have (?) to worry about it.”

You really can’t predict or account for all of these off the wall scenarios.

Well, sorta, IIRC there have been several cases of suicidal pilots taking out their whole plane :frowning: But other than psych evaluations, how do you really predict that? I know someone who committed suicide and they hid it from EVERYONE. Even after he had an “accidental” OD attempt no one realized he was suicidal until it was too late. :frowning:


episode 8 bullshit GIF by RuPaul's Drag Race



Agreed, there are several examples of that very thing happening.

That deadhead pilot who helped save over 100 lives with his skill in crash-landing the crippled plane in 1989 was one very dramatic example:


… IIRC he said he believed he was dreaming and was trying to precipitate a crisis in his dream world that would wake him up

Turns out those dream people whose dream lives he chose to endanger are fully capable of putting him on trial and sending him to dream prison :thinking:


We still have to take off our shoes and not carry more than a couple ounces of liquids due to attempts to down planes that had little to no chance at success.How realistic an attempt to down a plane is in terms of possible success should have no more bearing on this case than it did in those cases from 20 years ago.


Two DAYS ago? Those mushrooms really were magic

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