The JetBlue pilot who was locked out of the cockpit and restrained Tuesday was having a panic attack, law enforcement officials are saying.
Captain Clayton Osborn, the JetBlue pilot, with 131 passengers and six crew members aboard flight 191, was subdued by at least five passengers and flight attendants after being locked out of the cockpit and shouting things about Al Qaeda and a bomb.
The JetBlue Pilot, Osborn, who has been a commercial pilot since 1989 “began acting erratically, flipping switches in the cockpit and appearing to be confused” according to sources, reported ABCNews.com. The co-pilot tricked him into going into the passenger compartment and locked the door and changed security code behind him.
An off-duty JetBlue pilot who was on the flight managed to enter the cockpit and help land the place.
Former pilot and current president of Safety Operation Systems, John Cox, said that the first officer could have landed to plane safely, even without assistance from the off-duty pilot and that “there was never a risk to the passengers,” reported USAToday.com.
In the past, there have been several reported incidents where airline crews have alarmed or killed passengers. In October 1999 on Egypt Air, the co-pilot deliberately crashed flight 990, a 767 from New York to Cairo with 217 aboard, into the Atlantic.
In 1997, a Silk Air 737 flying over Indonesia, a pilot committed suicide by nose-diving, killing 104 passengers.
Earlier this month, an American Airlines flight attendant had to be restrained after threatening impending doom. That plane returned to the gate, and the flight attendant was taken away, complaining of psychiatric problems.
In 2010, JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater grabbed a drink and told passengers to shove this job at Kennedy Airport in New York before sliding down the escape slide.
Currently, airline pilots are not required to submit to psychiatric screening. Pilots are required to have a yearly physical exam by a medical examiner designated by the Federal Aviation Administration, who can order additional psychological testing if they feel necessary. Pilots are also expected to monitor their peers for signs of mental distress. Perhaps this incident with the JetBlue pilot will convince the FAA to reexamine their policies.
See the video of the incident here.