Horizon Air Recently Experienced 7 Incidents In 48 Hours

In the 48 hours leading up to Thanksgiving Day, Horizon Air experienced seven incidents involving the safety of its operations. According to a memo sent by vice president of flight operations Captain John Hornibrook, these issues occurred due to a lax safety culture within his airline.

Horizon Air E175
Horizon Air is a regional subsidiary of Alaska Airlines. Photo: Alaska Airlines

A series of events

One Mile at a Time reports on the message sent out by Hornibrook to his staff. The email indicated that the VP was absolutely furious with what occurred within his company. He had listed six separate incidents that could have had a detrimental impact on its passengers and operations.

The email said that one plane exceeded its maximum operations speeds. Meanwhile, another exceeded the maximum speeds allowed with its flaps deployed. Furthermore, a plane flew into troubling turbulence near the Californian resort city of Palm Springs. Two further planes were hit by lightning in other weather-related incidents.


Additionally, pilots on one of Horizon’s aircraft experienced “stick shakers”. This is an issue that occurs when a plane is close to stalling. Finally, there was a plane that had a 4.5-ton discrepancy in weight, which only realized after the plane took off. Hornibrook was thankful as it was underweight and not the other way around.

Horizon Air E175
Horizon holds 30 Embraer E175s and  33 Bombardier Dash 8-Q400s. Photo: Johnnyw3 via Wikimedia Commons

Uncomfortable situations

As a former pilot at Horizon’s parent, Alaska Airlines, Hornibrook was ashamed with what his firm went through. He called on his staff to take action and to make sure that events like these don’t happen again.

“We should be very uncomfortable with what has happened over the past two days. If we sit back and do nothing, we will have an accident. Nothing good can come of the trajectory we are currently on,” he said according to the memo, as reported by One Mile at a Time.


“We do need to use the past 48 hours as a (wake-up) call before we have a more serious event. The leadership team needs to get the pilots’ heads in the game before we have an accident.”

Alaska Airlines Boeing
Alaska Airlines will be hoping that these incidents involving its subsidiary don’t have a negative impact on the company. Photo: Alaska Airlines

Tough period

The carrier may have been unable to cope with the Thanksgiving rush. An estimated 31.6 million passengers were expected to be flying during the season. Additionally, severe weather had been reported around the United States last week, causing major disruption to operations. Nonetheless, Hornibrook has now downplayed the seriousness of the memo.

He said that the message was merely a response to the spike in irregular events over a short period of time. Ultimately, he wanted his staff to take a pause and get back to putting safety first. Thankfully, there are no reported injuries from these events.

Simple Flying reached out to Horizon Air for comment on the incident. We will update the article with any further announcements.

What do you think of the memo that was sent out? Let us know your thoughts on the incidents in the comment section.


Leave a Reply

6 Comment threads
3 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
7 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Lalo Galo

i mean…. he cant get mad over weather reasons right?

Sam Rittler

It’s the Richard Russel curse

Gerry S

Pilots are in very short supply. The most experienced go to major airlines, domestic or international. The others go to small regionals whose standards are not as taxing. Former military pilots are considered the cream of the crop. Those coming from private aviation flight schools usually find work with small regionals such as Horizon. Alaska of course, takes the better qualified.


Crap leadership. You don’t scold your employees publicly when things go wrong. You take ownership, figure out what happened and why, then take action to improve the operation.


It was a private memo….soooooo

Gerry S

Scolded them PRIVATELY. They were his subordinates.TOLD them what WAS wrong. Demanded that they get it fixed. Did his job.


Sounds like a VP trying to get the attention of his staff to be a bit sharper. Companies in other industries have company wide safety stand downs; little difference. Better to have this culture than the See No Evil, Hear No Evil culture that’s becoming apparent at some manufacturer.


If I remember correctly, Horizon had a severe pilot shortage a year or two back. Maybe this is a result of a mad rush to fill vacant slots. In each of the above cases, the Captain has final responsibility for the flight. However, being a captain is based on more than number of hours flown, it’s also a matter of maturity, experience, and self confidence. A refresher in rolls, responsibilities, and leadership is appropriate here. Unfortunately, most executive leadership in the C-Suite is only focused on yield management (ie: money), but the current MAX situation shows the flaw in that… Read more »

Gerry S

Agree 100%. With the industry booming as it is and everyone seeking to be more profitable, I sure hope that safety is not compromised. Haste still does make waste. Let it not be lives.