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Commercial airliner is 'hijacked from Seattle-Tacoma Airport', say reports

Commercial airliner is 'hijacked from Seattle-Tacoma Airport', say reports

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

Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor said the man "did something foolish and may well have paid with his life".

The man who stole the plane, Richard Russell, is presumed dead in the wreckage.

An unauthorized person reportedly took control of a jet Friday evening and took off from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Waqshington state, though authorities have not yet confirmed the reports.

"We are going to be thorough, which means taking the time needed to scour the area, delve into the background of the individual believed responsible, and review every aspect of this incident with all appropriate public & private partners", the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a statement.

A sheriff's department spokesman said the man may have been suicidal but there was no terrorism connection.

SeaTac Airport was temporarily grounded amid a security threat. His name has not been released. Dozens of personnel were out at the crash site, and co-workers and family members were being interviewed, he said.

Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor described the incident at a press conference as a "joyride gone terribly wrong". There were no passengers aboard. Those employees direct aircraft for takeoff and gate approach and de-ice planes, as well as handle baggage.

Southers, the aviation security expert, said the man could have caused mass destruction.




Officials don't believe Russell had a pilot's license, and they don't know how he knew to fly the plane.

PCSO also said in a tweet that AIr Force F-15s responded to the scene and tried to keep the plane from crashing into an area that would hurt citizens.

"There's a lot of discussion about: What does this tell us?" said Michael Huerta, who retired in January as head of the Federal Aviation Administration.

Irwin Downes recorded a cloud of smoke billowing from Ketron Island after the crash. Video showed fiery flames amidst trees on the island, which is sparsely populated and only accessible by ferry. No structures on the ground were damaged, Alaska Airlines said. No one was injured on the ground, authorities said.

"We're working to find out everything we possibly can about what happened", Brad Tilden, chief executive of Alaska Air Group, said in a statement.

He was in uniform, had proper credentials and had clearance to be in secure aircraft areas, said Tilden, the airline CEO.

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.

The 29-year old commented on the scenery, and told the air traffic control staff he hoped the incident wouldn't "ruin" their day.

The plane flew erratically as air traffic controllers referred to the man flying the plane as "Rich".

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