(NEW YORK) — The JetBlue pilot who had to be restrained by passengers was hit Wednesday with criminal charges as court documents reveal he ranted about Sept. 11 and yelled, “Guys, push it to full throttle.”
Capt. Clayton Osbon, 49, was suspended from his duties Wednesday and charged with interfering with flight crew instructions. According to the Department of Justice, this charge could be punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
The charges were accompanied by an FBI affidavit that provides a fresh view of what went on in the cockpit of the plane before Osbon burst into the plane’s cabin.
It also states that at the height of the melee on board the Las Vegas bound jetliner carrying 131 passenger and six crew members, Osbon’s rant made alarming allusions to terrorists.
“Osbon also yelled jumbled comments about Jesus, September 11, Iraq, Iran, and terrorists,” according to the criminal complaint. “He also yelled, ‘Guys, push it to full throttle.'”
Osbon’s behavior became ominous shortly after takeoff from New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport. As the plane gained altitude he mentioned something about “being evaluated” to the plane’s first officer. The officer was not sure what Osbon meant.
“Osbon began talking about religion, but his statements were not coherent,” the affidavit said. “The [first officer] became concerned when Osbon said ‘things just don’t matter.’ Osbon yelled over the radio to air traffic control and instructed them to be quiet.”
Osbon turned off the radios and began to dim the monitor. The first officer became “really worried” when Osbon said, “We need to take a leap of faith,” “We’re not going to Vegas,” and “began giving what the FO described as a sermon.”
Crew members also said that Osbon had “showed up at JFK later than he should have for the flight and missed the crew briefing.”
The FAA called the incident a medical emergency, but law enforcement sources have called the outburst a panic attack.
“As of now, he’s been taken off all active duties and responsibilities pending further investigation,” JetBlue spokeswoman Tamara Young told ABC News Wednesday.
An unruly Osbon, with 131 passengers and six crew members aboard flight 191, was subdued by at least five passengers after his co-pilot reportedly locked him out of the cockpit when he displayed potentially dangerous behavior. The flight from Kennedy Airport in New York was diverted to Amarillo, Texas.
Osbon’s last medical exam was in December 2011, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. His FAA record has no accidents or incidents and no enforcements.
Tuesday’s incident is not the first time airline crews have alarmed or even killed passengers. In October 1999 on Egypt Air, flight 990, a 767 from New York to Cairo with 217 aboard, disappeared when the co-pilot deliberately crashed the plane into the Atlantic.
In 1997, a Silk Air 737 flying over Indonesia nose-dived, killing 104 passengers. Investigators say the pilot committed suicide, taking all of his passengers with him.
Earlier this month, an American Airlines flight attendant had to be restrained after threatening impending doom. That plane returned to the gate and the flight attendant was taken away, complaining of psychiatric problems.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Eric Levenson, CNN
Julia Horowitz, CNN
Matt McFarland, CNN