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JetBlue Pilot Found 'Not Guilty' by Reason of Insanity

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Washington -- A JetBlue pilot arrested after an apparent meltdown aboard a March flight has been found not guilty by reason of insanity.

A federal judge in Amarillo, Texas, made the determination Tuesday after a psychologist testified that pilot Clayton Frederick Osbon "suffered from a severe mental disease or defect that impaired his ability" to understand his actions.

Judge Mary Lou Robinson found that Osbon committed the offense of interfering with a flight crew, but she judged him to be not guilty by reason of insanity and ordered him to be held pending further examination. Osbon was ordered immediately transported to a "low-security" federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas.

Pilot breakdown draws attention to mental health standards

"We don't have a comment. We are going to let the process play out. We continue to support Osbon and his family," said Alison Croyle, a JetBlue Airways spokeswoman.

Osbon, 49, was charged following a March 27 incident on a JetBlue flight from New York to Las Vegas. Early in that flight, the plane's co-pilot became concerned about Osbon's bizarre behavior, according to an FBI affidavit.

As the Airbus A-320 was climbing out of New York's Kennedy International Airport, Osbon talked about his church and needing to "focus," the affidavit says. He then told the co-pilot to take the controls and to work the radio, and began talking about religion, making statements that were incoherent, it says.

The co-pilot became further concerned when Osbon said "things just don't matter" and when he yelled over the radio to air traffic controllers.

At one point, Osbon said "We're not going to Vegas."

Concerned by Osbon's erratic behavior, the co-pilot suggested that they invite an off-duty JetBlue captain into the cockpit. Instead, Osbon "abruptly left the cockpit to go to the forward lavatory," the affidavit said.

The co-pilot used the opportunity to get the off-duty pilot into the cockpit and lock the door.

When Osbon tried to enter his code into the cockpit door, the co-pilot announced over the public address system an order to restrain Osbon. Several passengers brought Osbon down, according to the affidavit and to passengers on the plane.

The flight was diverted to Amarillo, where it landed safely with the passengers still restraining Osbon.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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