Black box found on crashed Seattle plane

AFP
US investigators said they found the flight data recorder of the Horizon Air plane stolen by a troubled Seattle airport worker amid plane wreckage.
AFP

US investigators on Sunday said they found the flight data recorder of the Horizon Air plane stolen by a troubled Seattle airport worker amid plane wreckage on a sparsely populated island in Washington state.

After falling through several lines of trees, the Bombardier Q400 plane broke up into pieces small enough to pick up by hand, National Transportation Safety Board Western Pacific Region chief Debra Eckrote told CNN.

Ekrote said that the flight data recorder — commonly known as the airplane’s “black box” — was burned but otherwise intact.

NTSB investigators will send the recorder to Washington DC to analyze the data for clues next week.

Two fighter jets chased the twin-engine turboprop plane that baggage handler Richard Russell hijacked late Friday.

During the hour he spent in the air, Russell flew the plane in a loop — an improbable stunt caught on video by a surprised bystander — then slammed it into the small, heavily forested Ketron Island in Puget Sound.

Authorities ruled out any link to terror, and determined Russell had flown alone. No one besides Russell was hurt, and the jets did not shoot down the plane, according to officials.

The local sheriff described Russell, nicknamed “Beebo,” as “suicidal” when he flew off in an empty passenger plane from Seattle’s main airport late Friday. Colleagues remembered him as “quiet” and “very friendly.” Russell’s family said the incident came as a “complete shock to us.”

“It may seem difficult for those watching at home to believe, but Beebo was a warm, compassionate man,” the family said in a letter, which they said would be their only statement.

We are “stunned and heartbroken” by the incident, the letter read.

Russell’s role at Horizon, an Alaska Airlines affiliate where he had worked since 2015, involved towing aircraft, loading and unloading cargo and luggage, and cleaning the aircraft, officials said.

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