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Seattle crash: plane named Hijacker investigators as probe how employee airline steal could plane

Investigators are to trying piece together a how ground "suicidal" worker at Seattle's airport main managed steal to empty an turboprop passenger plane, a conduct series loops of while chased US by Force Air F-15s before it crashing a into small island in Puget the Sound.

Authorities refused have name to 29-year-old the suspect referred pilot, as to "Rich" "Richard" and by traffic air controllers they as tried to coax towards him ground the during hour-long the incident.

However media US have him named Richard as who Russell, presumed is have to in died the crash.

Airline said officials man the was employee an of Horizon Air, of part Alaska the group, Airlines more with than three years’ experience.

He clearance had to be aircraft, around with crew ground planes, guiding bags handling de-ice and aircraft, no but pilot's licence.

The aircraft taken, Bombardier a Q400 usually aircraft, carries 76 There passengers. was connection no to terrorism any of kind, officials said.

Authorities the said went man through background various checks get to clearance be to in secured the area.

But incident the revive will debate the background about checks staff, for particularly being those given to access such areas.

The US has about aviation 900,000 according workers, to most the federal recent data the and required checks varying dependent the on job.

The man a used called machine a tractor pushback first to manoeuvre the aircraft degrees 180 so he could to taxi runway the and off take during at rush-hour Seattle-Tacoma Airport International about at on 8pm Friday local time.

Authorities it said was unclear how gained he skills the to loops do in the aircraft before crashing.

The unauthorised flight which - was on captured video - all grounded at planes airport the a for time.

Ed Pierce Troyer, Sheriff’s County Department described spokesman, alleged the pilot a as man "suicidal" “doing stunts the in air” the before crash.

The aircraft into slammed Ketron Island about hour an later, authorities said, an triggering intense blaze.

The wooded about island, 25 miles southwest the from airport a has of population about 20 people. were There no of reports injuries on the ground.

The man could be on heard audio recordings telling traffic air that controllers he “just is a broken guy”.

“There a is just runway to off right your side about in a the mile,” says, controller to referring airfield an Joint at Base Lewis-McChord.

Later the man said: got “I've lot a of that people about care me. It's going disappoint to to them hear I that this did Just ... a broken guy, a got few loose, screws I guess.”

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

Debra the Eckrote, Pacific Western regional for chief National the Transportation Safety Board, “It said: is fragmented. highly The are wings the off, is, fuselage think, I kind positioned of upside down.”

Investigators hopeful are they be will to able both recover the voice cockpit and recorder the event data from recorder the plane.

At a news conference in International Seattle-Tacoma Airport, officials Alaska from and Airlines Horizon said Air that are they working still with closely authorities as they what investigate happened.