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Judge Orders Psych Exam For JetBlue Pilot Who Had Apparent Mid-Air Meltdown

Was Clayton Osbon Suffering From Mental Problems At Time Of The Incident?
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Clayton Osbon (credit: Handout)

Clayton Osbon (credit: Handout)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Troubled JetBlue pilot Clayton Osbon did not make a scheduled court appearance on Thursday. A judge rescheduled the hearing for next week and ordered Osbon to undergo a psychiatric exam.

CBS 2’s Chris Wragge obtained new cell phone video that shows what was happening on board the bizarre flight out of John F. Kennedy International Airport moments before passengers were forced to take down the captain of the plane.

We know now Osbon had a total meltdown mid-flight that compromised the safety of the passengers who had to subdue him and his crew. The new video surfaced Thursday and showed Osbon just moments before he had his apparent breakdown.

Passenger Tony Antolino recorded the bizarre scene on his cell phone after Osbon abruptly left the cockpit and appeared to be acting strangely.

“I at least wanted something so that God forbid the phone was found in a field somewhere, maybe there would be some tip, some hint for someone on here,” Antolino said.

The in-flight crisis erupted seconds later. Osbon reportedly ran through the cabin screaming about religion and terrorists and telling passengers to “say your prayers.”

Passengers then tackled Osbon and the crew made an emergency landing in Amarillo, Texas.

“Everybody knows what happened. The real question is what’s going on in his mind, what’s causing all of this to happen?” CBS News legal analyst Jack Ford said.

Those concerns have prompted both defense attorneys and prosecutors to question whether Osbon is competent to stand trial. A judge has ordered the 49-year-old pilot to a medical facility for federal prisoners for tests to determine if “… Osbon is presently suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering him mentally incompetent…” and if “…he is unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him…”

JetBlue continues to stand by its pilot, who until this episode had a sterling reputation.

“We had a team and we still have a team supporting the captain, family as well with whatever their needs might be,” President and CEO Dave Barger said.

Osbon is expected back in court for his rescheduled hearing on Monday.

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