Investigators to retrace JetBlue pilot's history
(CBS News) - Captain Clayton Osbon, the pilot of JetBlue flight 191, now faces federal charges of interfering with the flight crew of his own plane.
His nervous collapse in flight forced the plane to make an unscheduled landing as passengers and crew members restrained him.
The federal complaint offers stark details of the pilot's bizarre behavior in the cockpit: talking about religion, saying "Things just didn't matter;" yelling at air traffic controllers on the radio and declaring to his co-pilot, "We need to take a leap of faith," and "We're not going to Las Vegas."
After the co-pilot used a ruse to get Osbon out of the cockpit, passengers heard this, "I'm so distraught. We got Israel. We got Iraq!"
"And now he's starting to say, pray to Jesus and he started yelling inside to the flight deck, 'throttle to idle, throttle to idle! Bring this plane down! Al Qaeda is here," said passenger Marc Sellouk.
The criminal complaint against Osbon details his behavior before takeoff in New York. At JFK airport, "Osbon showed up ... later than he should have ... and missed the crew briefing."
During the flight, he "yelled over the radio to air traffic control ... instructed them to be quiet," then "turned off the radios," and "started dimming his monitors."
(Watch analysis below from psychiatrist Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, chief of psychiatry at New York Presbyterian Hospital - Columbia University Medical Center.
Investigators are seeking to subpoena medical records, any prescription drug records and want to carefully retrace Osbon's steps from what he ate, to what he said to how he slept in the days before the mid-air meltdown. They still don't know what caused it in a man that by all accounts was the quintessential image of a commercial pilot.
Mark Rosenker, a former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board says the JetBlue incident may call for a new look at pilot's screening. "There are questions that need to be answered. How do we better screen these people ... to make sure that they are fit to fly, which not only includes a good heart, good blood pressure, but a good healthy psychological profile as well?"
In the JetBlue case, many agree the co-pilot's careful plan to have any confrontation occur outside the cockpit may have saved lives.
"He did a brilliant job in my judgment," Rosenker said. "He got him off that flight deck, shut that door, got his other pilot in the flight deck with him so they could take care of this airplane and divert it to Amarillo."
- John Miller
John Miller is a senior correspondent for CBS News, with extensive experience in intelligence, law enforcement and journalism, including stints in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the FBI.
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