JetBlue CEO on pilot’s mid-air meltdown: ‘It started medical–but clearly more than that’

Dylan Stableford
The Lookout

JetBlue CEO Dave Barger spoke out on Wednesday, a day after one of the airline's captains had a mid-air meltdown, causing a flight from New York to Las Vegas to be diverted to Amarillo, Texas.

"It was a tough event to say the least as it was unfolding yesterday," Barger said in an interview on the "Today" show. "But I think that ... the training that took place with the co-pilot who became the pilot in command and the entire cabin crew and then working with the customersthat's the follow-up to this story."

The captain, Clayton Osbon, became incoherent and the co-pilot locked him out of the cockpit. Osbon began shouting about threats from al-Qaida, Iran, Iraq and bombs aboard flight, and was subdued by several passengers, including an off-duty police officer. He was strapped down and later transported to a local medical facility.

Barger said Obson was "under the custody of the FBI."

"I've known the captain personally for a long period of time," Barger said. "There [was] no indication of this at all in the past. Consummate professional."

On Tuesday, JetBlue's stated that Osbon had a "medical situation," but the CEO admitted it was more than that.

"What happened at altitude and the call into the FAA is that we had a medical situation and that's how we responded," Barger said. "Clearly, especially in today's [real-time] media, we know that it also became a security situation. I think as we know less than 24 hours later, it started medical butclearly more than that."

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