Clayton Osbon, the JetBlue pilot who began yelling about terrorists and religion on a cross-country flight in March, has suffered a psychotic episode and needs further mental evaluation, a judge said Wednesday.
Osbon was charged with interference with a flight crew but was found not guilty by reason of insanity last month. Robert E.H. Johnson, a forensic neuropsychologist testified that Osbon had a “brief psychotic disorder” because he hadn’t been sleeping. Johnson said Osbon’s psychotic disorder lasted about a week after the flight but didn’t say how long Johnson had gone without sleeping prior to the flight. According to Johnson, the JetBlue pilot also suffered from delusions “secondary to sleep deprivation.”
On the March 27 flight from New York to Las Vegas, Osbon told his first officer that the plane wouldn’t make it to its destination and started ranting about religion. He told the air traffic controllers to stop talking before turning off the radios, dimming the monitors in the cockpit, and telling his co-pilot to take a leap of faith. He then began running through the cabin yelling about Jesus and al-Qaida.
Clayton Osbon was sent to a prison medical facility in North Carolina for evaluation after the flight and was scheduled to return to Amarillo federal court for another hearing this week. The hearing would decide if he should be sent to a mental health facility or if he should be set free. However, US District Judge Mary Lou Robinson extended his evaluation period to October 15. Attorneys on both sides of the case did not oppose the extension.
No one on board the flight was seriously injured, but at least 10 passengers have sued JetBlue over the incident.