JetBlue to review procedures after pilot meltdown: CEO

Wed Mar 28, 2012 1:03pm EDT

JetBlue Airways logo is displayed on a monitor in Terminal 5 at John F. Kennedy International Airport during a terminal test in New York August 23, 2008. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

JetBlue Airways logo is displayed on a monitor in Terminal 5 at John F. Kennedy International Airport during a terminal test in New York August 23, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Joshua Lott

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(Reuters) - The CEO of JetBlue said on Wednesday he personally knows the pilot whose erratic behavior led to a diverted flight and that there were no earlier signs of problems, although the airline will review its procedures after the incident.

A JetBlue flight bound for Las Vegas from New York had to make an emergency landing in Amarillo, Texas on Tuesday after what passengers described as chaos mid-flight when Captain Clayton Osbon was locked out of the cockpit.

Passenger video of the situation shows Osbon ranting about Israel and Iran, among other things.

JetBlue CEO Dave Barger described it as a medical situation that turned into a security one. He said he did not think anyone from the company has since talked to Osbon.

"The captain's now in the hands of medical care, obviously, under the custody of the FBI," Barger said told NBC's "Today" program.

"I've known the captain personally for a long period of time and there's been no indication of this at all," Barger said, adding that the pilot was a "consummate professional."

Barger said, "We'll always take a look at procedures ... but I'm very confident about our procedures, the industry's procedures."

He credited the training of another pilot and other cabin crew staff in handling the situation on the flight which had 135 passengers.

Passengers described a chaotic mid-flight scene in which a man in a JetBlue uniform, apparently locked out of the cockpit, began banging on the door and demanding to be let inside.

Tony Antolino, a passenger on the flight who helped subdue the pilot, said the plastic restraints on board were flimsy and systematically failed. Passengers on the flight were rattled, and several had to restrain the pilot after his meltdown by sitting on him.

"They did not work, they failed," Antolino told NBC, speaking from Las Vegas. "We had to use seatbelt extenders, people's belts and physically our hands to try and restrain the guy."

Asked if he would review company procedures following the incident, Barger said: "Absolutely, but not just that, but also the entire event ... within JetBlue and also the industry."

The Federal Aviation Administration cited an "onboard medical emergency" as the reason for the diversion, and said preliminary information showed the co-pilot became concerned that the captain had "exhibited erratic behavior during the flight."

"The captain had exited the cockpit during the flight, after which the co-pilot locked the door," the statement said. "When the captain attempted to enter the locked cockpit, he was subdued by passengers."

The incident was the second one involving erratic behavior by a JetBlue crew member since August 2010, when a flight attendant bolted from a plane by deploying and sliding down the inflatable emergency chute following an altercation with a passenger.

(Reporting By Susan Heavey; Editing by Vicki Allen)

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Comments (7)
BrendaTNYC wrote:
Without knowing anything about the pilot’s illness, I have to wonder how much longer airline staff can handle the pressures. We passengers know full well the dehumanizing we experience for the privilege of traveling in a can. What must it be like to work a desk in an airport (volleying verbal and sometimes physical attacks) or work as a flight attendant (regularly treated like a scullery maid/nanny) or be the pilot in an industry constantly merging, without the glamor and salary it once had? Add to that the constant federal regulations and real threats to his/her own safety and responsibility for hundreds (if not more) lives; it’s remarkable these breakdowns don’t happen more often.

Mar 28, 2012 9:13am EDT  --  Report as abuse
ritchiebaby2 wrote:
“I’ve known the captain personally for a long period of time and there’s been no indication of this at all,” Barger said, adding that the pilot was a “consummate professional.”

Is this not much the same as they say about terrorists? Like the lad in France who was a “Nice Guy” , but by the way he was on FBI list for worth of watching!!! Why is it they always say this after the fact!!!

Mar 28, 2012 9:25am EDT  --  Report as abuse
ShepHyken wrote:
My take on this is that employee and customer training was able to thwart the JetBlue disaster. Because of some excellent training and common sense, by both the crew and the passengers, disaster was avoided.
Regarding employee training in the face of emergencies, Dave Barger, CEO and President of JetBue, praised the co-pilot and the crew for how they handled the situation. He specifically mentioned how the training in crises situations paid off. He also praised the passengers.
Then there is customer training. Typically this is where a company trains their customers on how to use their products. For example, most passengers will use an airline’s website to book their tickets. The airlines gave incentives to book online, eventually getting passengers to try booking their tickets through their website. In a sense, they trained the customer on how to buy.
But, JetBlue didn’t train the passengers. The events of 911 and the media did. The terrorist’s attacks of 911 are forever etched into our memories. Numerous television interviews covered how passengers might react to terrorist situations. These trained the passengers on what to do in a similar situation. Knowing what could happen on the JetBlue flight, passengers risked their lives to tackle Osbon to the floor and did what was necessary to eliminate the threat.
Shep Hyken, customer service expert (

Mar 28, 2012 9:40am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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