The Jet Blue pilot who terrifed an entire flight with bizarre ramblings about Jesus and terrorism has been ordered released by a Texas judge. Veteran pilot Clayton Osbon was charged with interference with a flight crew following the March 27 incident during which he needed to be restrained by passengers after being locked out of the plane's cockpit. No one on the flight was seriously injured although one flight attendant's ribs were bruised. After his arrest, Captain Osbon was held in a psychiatric prison facility in North Carolina awaiting trial.
During the trial, forensic psychiatrist Robert E.H. Johnson reported that Captain Osbon was suffering from a brief psychotic disorder linked to sleep deprivation. These psychotic symptoms, including delusions, apparently made Captain Osbon "incapable of understanding why his actions on the flight were wrong." It is still unclear how long Osbon had gone without sleep before the flight. Dr. Johnson also testified that Osbon's psychotic symptoms had lasted for a week following the March 27 flight and that he had experienced a further psychotic breakdown while in the hospital. This psychotic breakdown delayed the trial which was originally scheduled to end in August.
In handing down the decision to release Osbon, U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson imposed strict conditions including a ban on all flying both as a pilot or a passenger. He was also banned from contacting any of the passengers or flight crew of the March 27 flight, several of whom have filed lawsuits against the airline over the incident. Osbon is also required to report regularly to a probation officer and to attend treatment at a North Carolina medical center.
"This is a bad situation for you and your family, but you are fortunate to have the type of immediate support that you have", Judge Robinson said in handing down her decision. Osbon's defense attorney, Dean Roper, commented on the "ordeal" that the former pilot and his family have faced in recent months. He also said that he is relieved that the ordeal is over although it is uncertain whether the 49-year old pilot will ever fly again. As part of the court decision, all of Osbon's psychiatric records have been sealed.