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March 28, 2012

JetBlue Pilot Meltdown: The Day After

JetBlue CEO Dave Barger appeared on NBC's Today. (Screengrab from NBC)
JetBlue CEO Dave Barger appeared on NBC's Today. (Screengrab from NBC)
Less than a day after JetBlue Captain Clayton Osbon suffered a psychotic episode while operating a flight to Vegas, the network morning shows were all over the story.

Their attitude boiled down to this: “Will a psychopathic airline employee kill me and my family today?”

First up, JetBlue CEO Dave Barger himself on NBC’s Today. He spun the focus onto the exceptional actions of the First Officer and the passengers who restrained Osbon and ultimately saved the day. Barger said he has known Osbon for many years, and that he was a consummate professional, something only a CEO like Barger can get away with since he really does talk to his frontline employees. Bottom line: The procedures in place worked, but JetBlue will reexamine those procedures to be sure there aren’t things that can be done better.

Over on CBS, The Morning Show chatted up “Miracle On the Hudson” superpilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (live, via satellite from Vancouver!). Sully broke it down the way only he can: This was an extraordinarily rare event, the likes of which he has never remotely encountered or even heard about, so everyone should calm the eff down.

Sick or no sick, federal prosecutors in Dallas on Wednesday charged Osbon with interfering with a flight crew, which could earn him 20 years behind bars and a $250,000 fine.

  • Also on Wednesday, JetBlue issued a thorough statement addressing 10 of the public’s most prominent questions.
  • Esquire dug up a five-year-old column about the author’s fear of flights numbered 191, given their run of bad luck over the years. It specifically mentions how he plans to avoid “the JetBlue flight that goes to Vegas from JFK.”
  • The Economist brings up the subject of psychological screening for flight crew members, echoing earlier sentiments about the recent breakdown of an American Airlines flight attendant.
  • Carson Daly pissed off the gay community while talking about the incident on his Los Angeles radio show. After mentioning the fact that Flight 191 was filled with several law enforcement officers on their way to a security conference, Daly said, “With my luck, it would be like … ‘this is the flight going to [the gay pride parade] in San Francisco.’” He apologized later in the day.