Airline Crew Member Mental Health in Spotlight After Captain’s Breakdown

Two recent incidents in which airline crew members behaved alarmingly and had to be restrained by passengers have raised questions about when and how aviation workers are screened for mental health problems.

On Tuesday, JetBlue captain Clayton Osbon, 49, was locked out of the cockpit by his co-pilot after he began acting erratically on Flight 191 from New York to Las Vegas. The captain, since charged with interfering with a flight crew and now getting medical care, was upset when he couldn’t get back into the cockpit and began yelling about an unspecified threat linked to Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Osbon “became increasingly agitated,” and several passengers grabbed the pilot, “tackled him to the ground” and sat on him, passenger Tony Antolino told TODAY’s Ann Curry.

It is not yet clear if anxiety or mental health issues led to Osbon’s behavior. JetBlue said in a blog post that it will not share further details about the captain’s “private life.”

Osbon’s last medical exam was four months ago, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) told “He has a clean record, no incidents or accidents and the FAA has not taken any type of enforcement action against him,” the agency said in a statement.

JetBlue CEO Dave Barger called the pilot, who was suspended on Wednesday, a “consummate professional.”

by Rebecca Ruiz at

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