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JetBlue pilot who disrupted flight free to go home

Associated Press Modified: November 9, 2012 at 1:46 pm •  Published: November 9, 2012
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JetBlue spokeswoman Sharon Jones declined Friday to say whether the judge's order would affect Osbon's status as employed but on inactive duty.

Osbon showed up unusually late for the March 27 flight. The plane was in midair when he told his first officer that they wouldn't make it to their destination, according to court documents.

He began to ramble about religion, scolded air traffic controllers to quiet down, then turned off the radios and dimmed the monitors in the cockpit. He said aloud that "things just don't matter" and encouraged his co-pilot to take a leap of faith.

When he left the cockpit, passengers moved to restrain him. A flight attendant's ribs were bruised in the scuffle, but no one was seriously injured.

At least 10 passengers have sued JetBlue over the episode.

Neuropsychologist Robert E.H. Johnson testified in July that Osbon's psychotic disorder at the time of flight lasted for about a week afterward, according to a hearing transcript. He determined Osbon suffered from a brief psychotic disorder and delusions "secondary to sleep deprivation." He didn't say how long Osbon had gone without sleeping before boarding the plane, and his psychiatric evaluation of Osbon has been sealed.

Those symptoms made Osbon incapable of understanding why his actions on the flight were wrong, Johnson testified.

After the July trial, Osbon was sent to a prison medical facility in North Carolina for evaluation. Robinson was to decide what happened next for Osbon in August, but instead extended his evaluation period into October after being notified that Osbon had suffered a psychotic episode in prison. She did not say what the nature of the episode was, if it was connected to his previous disorder or what prompted it.

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Associated Press writer Nomaan Merchant in Dallas contributed to this report.