FBI investigating how and why Seattle mechanic took commercial plane before fatal crash

The FBI is currently investigating the motive behind the actions of a Horizon Air mechanic who ‘stole’ one of the carrier’s 76-seat Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 twin turboprop aircraft at Seattle-Tacoma Airport, then performed aerial stunts before taking his life by crashing it into nearby Ketron Island.

Shortly after take-off the plane, piloted by the 29-year-old ground service agent and named locally as Richard Russell, was shadowed by two F-15 fighter jets. Recordings of radio transmission conversations with the pilot reveal that efforts were made to convince him to land the plane, but instead he chose to deliberately crash it into the sparsely populated Ketron Island in South Puget Sound, some 25 miles to the south west of Seattle-Tacoma Airport.

The incident has raised considerable concern as to how anyone at a major airport and in broad daylight – Seattle hosts over 30 airlines which serve 90 destinations – was able to board an aircraft, taxi onto the runway and then take off without any intervention taking place. Questions were also raised as to what could have been done had the pilot chosen to deliberately crash the plane into the city rather than perform loop-the-loops.

From the recordings of conversations held between the pilot and officials, it would appear that he was in a state of mental distress, which has led certain aviation experts to question whether or not all persons employed in the aviation industry should undergo annual mental health checks.

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