Judge: JetBlue Meltdown Pilot Insane, Not Guilty
Clayton Osbon sent to federal facility for examination
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 3, 2012 10:43 PM CDT
Updated Jul 4, 2012 4:00 AM CDT
JetBlue pilot Clayton Osbon, right, is escorted to a waiting vehicle by FBI agents after his release from hospital in early April.   (AP Photo/Amarillo Globe-News, Michael Schumacher)
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(Newser) – The JetBlue pilot who caused a flight to be diverted after a bizarre mid-air meltdown has been found not guilty by reason of insanity. Prosecutors did not argue with a psychological report that concluded Clayton Osbon, 49, suffered from "a severe mental disease or defect that impaired his ability to appreciate the nature, quality, or wrongfulness of his behavior" at the time of the offense, Reuters reports. The pilot could have faced up to 20 years in jail if he had been found guilty of interfering with a flight crew.

The judge sent Osbon—who had to be locked out of the cockpit and wrestled to the floor of the New York-Las Vegas flight after he tried to interfere with the flight controls and ran down the aisle ranting about al-Qaeda—to a federal correction facility for a mental examination. He could be released as soon as next month if authorities decide he is no longer dangerous, and it will be up to the FAA whether he keeps his pilot's license. At least 10 passengers have filed a lawsuit against JetBlue, saying the airline should have known he was unfit for duty.