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March 30, 2012

JetBlue Midair Meltdown: Pilot charged with interfering with flight crew

JetBlue pilot Clayton Osbon experienced what passengers and crew members described as a mental breakdown ultimately leading to an emergency landing during Flight 191's route from New York to Las Vegas. Osbon is being charged with interfering with a flight crew and has been suspended pending a full investigation.

According to witnesses, Osbon became increasingly erratic about three hours into flight - turning off radios and control monitors. The first officer summoned another JetBlue pilot who had been travelling as a passenger and locked Osbon out of the cockpit. From the cabin, Osbon began ranting about Iran, Iraq and 9/11 alarming the passengers and prompting the first officer to issue an order for Osbon to be restrained. If convicted, Osbon may face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Motley Rice member attorney Mary Schiavo was invited on CNN with Soledad O'Brien to discuss the issue. "So many stresses are on the aviation industry, not the least of which are economic, but also security concerns and the world that we live in today," Schiavo told CNN. In her experience, incidents like this are typically a result of a physical problem, such as a poor reaction to drugs or illness. Although the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) may consider subjecting pilots and flight crew to psychiatric evaluations, Schiavo doubts they will be required.

See full interview with Schiavo about JetBlue pilot's in-flight breakdown on CNN.

Read about Motley Rice's aviation lawyers and how they work to protect passenger rights and fight on behalf of victims' family members and injured crash survivors.