JetBlue captain goes berserk on flight, subdued by passengers

March 29th, 2012 - 12:24 am ICT by BNO News  

AMARILLO, TEXAS (BNO NEWS) — A JetBlue captain was locked out of his plane’s cockpit on Tuesday after he apparently suffered a mental breakdown during the flight, forcing the co-pilot to take over command as passengers wrestled the captain to the ground, officials and passengers said.

The incident happened aboard JetBlue flight 191 which departed New York’s John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport at approximately 7:28 a.m. ET on Tuesday on a scheduled flight to McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. The aircraft was carrying 135 passengers and six crew members, including one who was off-duty.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the co-pilot became concerned after the captain exhibited ‘erratic behavior’ during the flight. “The captain had exited the cockpit during the flight, after which the co-pilot locked the door,” the FAA said in a statement. “When the captain attempted to enter the locked cockpit, he was subdued by passengers.”

Passengers told media outlets that the captain cursed at passengers and mentioned countries such as Israel, Iran and Iraq. As he attempted to get back into the cockpit, he also screamed to immediately land the plane, claiming that al-Qaeda had planted a bomb on board the aircraft.

“The pilot ran to the cockpit door, began banging on it and said something to the effect of, ‘We’ve gotta pull the throttle back. We’ve gotta get this plane down,’” passenger Laurie Dhue told CNN. “At that point, the two flight attendants tried to subdue him, and then seemingly out of nowhere, about six or seven large guys stormed to the front of the plane and wrestled the captain of the plane down to the ground and had him subdued in a matter of moments. It was really like something out of a movie.”

After the passengers subdued the captain, who was identified as Clayton Osbon, the co-pilot declared a medical emergency and diverted to Amarillo Rick Husband International Airport in Texas. “Another Captain, traveling off duty, entered the flight deck prior to landing at Amarillo, and took over the duties of the ill crewmember once on the ground,” a JetBlue spokesperson said in a statement.

The aircraft landed in Amarillo at approximately 10:11 a.m. CT, after which Osbon was removed from the aircraft and taken by ambulance to a local medical facility. JetBlue on Wednesday said Osbon, who has worked for the airline for twelve years, has been suspended pending further investigation.

The medical condition of the captain was not immediately known, but CBS News quoted an unidentified source as saying that Osbon is undergoing 2 to 3 days of psychiatric evaluation at an Amarillo hospital. “Out of respect for the individual, we won’t be reporting on his situation,” airline spokeswoman Jenny Dervin said.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the FAA, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and local law enforcement are investigating the incident. If Osbon is charged, it would be the first time that a captain has ever been charged with interfering with his own flight.

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