The JetBlue Airways pilot who was charged with interfering with a flight crew after he left the cockpit of his Airbus A320 and began ranting about religion and terrorists has been found not guilty by reason of insanity.
A federal judge in Amarillo, Texas, issued the ruling during a bench trial on Tuesday for Clayton Osbon, saying he suffered from a “severe mental disease or defect.”
Osbon, who recently was found mentally competent to stand trial after a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation, has been sent to a federal mental health facility for further examination until another hearing in August. The judge will decide then whether he can be released or should be committed to a mental facility.
Osbon was indicted on one charge of crew interference on March 27 after the incident on a flight from Las Vegas to New York, when he began acting strangely. He told his first officer they wouldn’t make it to their destination and started rambling about religion. He then told air traffic controllers to quiet down before switching off the radios and dimming the flight displays. The copilot convinced Osbon to leave the cockpit and locked the door behind him. Osbon tried to re-enter, banging on the door. The copilot gave an order to flight attendants over the intercom to restrain Osbon. Passengers wrestled him to the floor and held him there until the flight landed.
The hearing next month puts the burden on Osbon to show “by clear and convincing evidence” that his release would not pose future danger.