Clayton Osbon, the JetBlue pilot who had to be subdued mid-flight from New York to Las Vegas, has been taken off active duty from the airline after new information emerged about his on-board outburst.
Osbon, who worked for JetBlue for 12 years, reportedly left the cockpit to use the lavatory mid-flight. According to reports from passengers, when he found that was he locked out of the cockpit, he began panicking and several passengers intervened to try and subdue him.
The airline revealed that there were prevailing conditions that led to incident en route. Though they’ve refused to disclose specifics in regard for the pilot’s privacy, Osbon is reportedly receiving medical care under the FBI. JetBlue’s CEO, Dave Barger, commented on NBC’s Today show that “What happened at altitude [was] a medical situation,” before mentioning that the incident indeed then had become “a security situation.”
It’s been speculated in the media that Osbon was quite possibly suffering from a mental illness; pilots are generally given a medical screening at the age of 40, and then are screened every six months thereafter.
According to passenger Laurie Dhue, as told to CNN, “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.’…It was really like something out of a movie.”
A group of about six or seven people was enlisted to help refrain Osbon, including JetBlue cabin crew and attendants. Paul Babakitis, a retired New York police officer, was one of the passengers who helped wrestle Osbon down to the ground. Babakitis told CBS:
Training immediately kicked in. And when I initially approached who I first did not believe was a pilot but wearing a uniform that resembled a pilot’s uniform I realized that this person was deranged and that we had to take swift action, otherwise there could be dire consequences….
I insisted upon everyone that were doing the detaining him on the ground not to engage him in any way. He’s an emotionally disturbed person, and frankly you don’t want to agitate him.
Osbon lives in Savannah, Ga., and does not have a criminal record. Self-described as a leadership coach on his Twitter page, no public evidence showed that something was possibly afoot.
Babakitis commented that “I’m not foreign to situations like this, but I don’t expect them at 30,000 feet.”