An airline mechanic stole a plane from a major US airport before crashing it into an island, officials said.
The Alaska Airlines plane was stolen without any passengers on board and took off from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington state on Friday night before crashing near Ketron Island.
Preliminary information suggested that the mechanic stole the Horizon Air Q400 and the crash occurred because the person was “doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills,” the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department said on Twitter.
The plane was chased by military aircraft, witnesses said.
Airport officials said the airline employee had “conducted an unauthorised takeoff without passengers”.
The US Coast Guard was sending a 45ft vessel to the crash scene after witnesses reported seeing a large plume of smoke in the air, Petty Officer Ali Flockerzi said.
Horizon Air is part of Alaska Air Group and flies shorter routes throughout the US West.
The Q400 ix a turboprop aircraft with 76 seats.