JetBlue captain under observation, retired pilot gives insight

U.S. Attorney, Sarah Saldana confirmed today that a Federal Criminal Complaint was filed against 49-year-old JetBlue pilot Clayton Osbon that charges him with interference with a flight crew.

Tuesday, Osbon had to be subdued by passengers, forcing a plane to make an unscheduled landing in Amarillo. He's still under medical supervision in Amarillo, leading some to question the screening protocol for pilots.

"He definitely had medical problems," said passenger David Gonzales who helped wrestle Osbon to the ground mid-flight. "He should have been screen before he got on the plane."

But other experienced commercial pilots told Pronews 7, anyone who made it to that level of flight status had to go through rigorous training and would be highly qualified.

"You have to be highly qualified to make it to that level of flying," said former commercial pilot, Ralph Pedigo. "He (Osbon) gives check rides to other pilots to make sure they're doing exactly what their flight operation manuals demand of them so he was very competent, very qualified."

The FBI, JetBlue, Northwest Texas Hospital or the airport have been able to conform Osbon's current physical of mental status.

Pilots are required to undergo routine physical screenings and psychological screening upon hiring, but this latest incident now has some concerned about the lack of "regular" mental screenings.

"During the process of being hired they give you psychological profile testing to see if you have any weird traits, but it's not that intense," explained Pedigo. "We police ourselves, I assume that's what the co-pilot picked up with this guy he'd flown with before, knew his personality and senses that something was not right But as far as the FAA coming in and giving you a psychological screening routinely, that never happened to me while I was there," he said.

But, even with the demands of the job and sometimes lack of sleep, Pedigo said he, as a former pilot, had never experienced any kind of stress from the job that affected him medically.

"If you're out on a three night, four day trip you can get pretty tired by the time you get back but it's never been that kind of a problem," he said. "I can't imagine what would've made him flip out."

Even thought the FAA may not monitor pilots mental status frequently, Pedigo said it's the pilots that monitor each other and it's that fact, he said, that probably kept this scary incident from turning into an actual disaster.

"They were never in any danger of the airplane crashing because they were minus one pilot," said Pedigo. "We police outselves and we don't want anybody like that flying an airplane either."