After Theft, Crash of Seattle Airplane, Regulators Considering Security Changes


August 13, 2018

SEATTLE, WA. – August 13, 2018 (gpbnews.org) According to an online news report from gpbnews.org (reposting a transcript from an NPR broadcast), federal regulators are considering tarmac security changes after the theft and subsequent crash of an airplane in Seattle, Washington, on August 10.*

On August 10, 29-year-old Richard Russell, a Horizon Air baggage handler and ramp worker, stole a parked airplane at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and ended up crashing the plane into an island in the Puget Sound. Horizon Air’s CEO said Russell had passed a federal background check prior to his employment, and he had the proper credentials to be around the parked plane. 

Airline industry leaders are now asking what can be done to stop something like this from happening again. Courtney Gregoire, of the Port of Seattle Commission that operates Sea-Tac Airport, said in a press conference August 13 that all security protocols were handled appropriately at the airport, and that the incident was “truly [a] one in a million experience.” She did not identify any changes currently under consideration but indicated the Commission was looking at ways it could learn from the experience.

The FBI has announced that the flight data recorder and components of the cockpit voice recorder have been recovered, which officials are hoping will shed light on whether Russell crashed the plane intentionally or lost control of the plane. Russell’s conversations with air traffic controllers depict both excitement about and remorse for what he had done. 

Either way, industry experts have spoken up online in the aftermath of the crash, saying the focus of future action should be on mental health. 

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