JetBlue Pilot Who Disrupted Flight to Be Freed

View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print

    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Clayton Osbon

    A JetBlue Airways pilot who

    disrupted a New York-to-Las-Vegas flight by leaving the cockpit and yelling about religion and terrorists

    should be freed rather than committed to a mental health facility, a Texas judge ruled Friday.

    JetBlue Pilot's Mental Health Questioned

    [NY] JetBlue Pilot's Mental Health Questioned
    New details emerge about the bizarre and frightening incident involving JetBlue pilot Clayton Osborn, who was charged with interference with a flight crew after an apparent breakdown in the air. NBC New York's Pei-Sze Cheng reports.


    Clayton Osbon was charged with interference with a flight crew for the March incident, but was found not guilty by reason of insanity in July. A forensic neuropsychologist testified in a short, unpublicized trial that Osbon had a "brief psychotic disorder" brought on by lack of sleep.

    Erratic JetBlue Pilot Diverts Flight from JFK

    [NY] Erratic JetBlue Pilot Diverts Flight from JFK
    A JetBlue flight from John F. Kennedy Airport to Las Vegas was diverted after the pilot began behaving erratically, pounding on the door of the cockpit and yelling about threats from Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan, authorities and passengers said. JetBlue said the pilot had a "medical condition." News4's Pei-Sze Cheng reports.

    U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson said Friday that Osbon would be allowed to go free, but set certain conditions for his release. He will not be allowed to fly or board any commercial or private planes without the permission of Robinson or his probation officer, and he will not be allowed to communicate with any of the passengers on the March 27 flight he disrupted, according to the judge's order.

    "This is a bad situation for you and your family, but you are fortunate to have the type of immediate support that you have," Robinson said.

    Passengers on the March 27 flight from New York to Las Vegas said the 49-year-old Osbon ran through the cabin yelling about Jesus and al-Qaida. The flight was diverted and safely landed in Amarillo, Texas.

    At least 10 passengers have sued JetBlue over the episode.

    Osbon appeared in a green jail jumpsuit and did not make an extended statement in court. His attorney, Dean Roper, said afterward that he didn't know if Osbon would fly again, but was relieved the months-long legal proceeding was at an end.

    "It's been a long ordeal for everyone involved, especially Mr. Osbon," Roper said.

    Osbon was expected to walk out of jail later Friday and head back to his home in Georgia. Osbon and a friend who attended Friday's hearing were planning to make the 1,300-mile trip by car, Roper said.

    JetBlue Airways did not immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment.

    Osbon showed up unusually late for the March 27 flight. The plane was in midair when he told his first officer that they wouldn't make it to their destination, according to court documents.

    Osbon began to ramble about religion, scolded air traffic controllers to quiet down, then turned off the radios altogether and dimmed the monitors in the cockpit. He said aloud that "things just don't matter" and encouraged his co-pilot to take a leap of faith.

    When he left the cockpit, passengers moved to restrain him. A flight attendant's ribs were bruised in the scuffle, but no one was seriously injured.

    Neuropsychologist Robert E.H. Johnson testified in July that Osbon's psychotic disorder at the time of flight lasted for about a week afterward, according to a hearing transcript. He determined that Osbon suffered from a brief psychotic disorder and delusions "secondary to sleep deprivation." He didn't say how long Osbon had gone without sleeping before boarding the plane, and his psychiatric evaluation of Osbon has been sealed.

    Those symptoms made Osbon incapable of understanding why his actions on the flight were wrong, Johnson testified.

    After the July trial, Osbon was sent to a prison medical facility in North Carolina for evaluation. Robinson was to decide what happened next for Osbon in August, but instead extended his evaluation period into October after being notified that Osbon had suffered a psychotic episode in prison. She did not say what the nature of the episode was, if it was connected to his previous disorder or what prompted it.