Watch video: Employee takes off in empty airplane from Seattle’s airport, crashes

Airport officials say in a tweet Friday night that an airline employee "conducted an unauthorized takeoff without passengers." Witnesses reported seeing the plane being chased by military aircraft near the airport.

By: AP | Seattle | Updated: August 11, 2018 5:38:30 pm
In this photo taken March 24, 2015, an Alaska Airlines jet takes off at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in SeaTac, Washington (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

Alaska Airlines says there was an “unauthorised take-off” of an airplane and witnesses reported a jet being chased by military planes near Sea-Tac International Airport in Washington state. However, the plane, which was stolen by an airline employee, has crashed in Washington state.

Airport officials say in a tweet Friday night that an airline employee “conducted an unauthorized takeoff without passengers.” Sheriff’s officials say a man who stole an Alaska Airlines plane from an airport in Washington state was “suicidal” and there is no connection to terrorism.

Witnesses reported seeing the plane being chased by military aircraft near the airport.

The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office said on Twitter that preliminary information suggested that a mechanic had stolen the aircraft. The tweet said the crash may have been caused by the mechanic “doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills.”

A Coast Guard spokeswoman said the agency was responding to a report of a smoke plume and possible plane crash. Petty Officer Ali Flockerzi said a 45-foot vessel was headed to the scene.

Horizon Air is part of Alaska Air Group and flies shorter routes throughout the U.S. West. The Q400 ix a turboprop aircraft with 76 seats.

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