First we had the Southwest flight attendant that went round the bend and now a Jet Blue captain who had a hard landing or maybe needs one. Before I board my next flight, I’m going to interview the entire flight crew and all the air traffic controllers. If any of them seem a little quirky, I’m demanding a full physiological workup. In fact, maybe we should consider the same procedure for our politicians before the next election.
While going postal might be condoned in some professions, I don’t think we’re going to be able to tolerate it in aviation. Who knows what personal circumstances might have caused Captain Osbon to meltdown? You can read the FBI Report here.
Stress in one’s personal life can sometimes affect professional performance and as pilots, it’s our responsibility to prevent that. No one, including airline captains, is immune to stress and distractions, but personal judgment is required to decide if he or she is fit to fly on a given day. Every captain is required to sign a dispatch release form before every flight with the following statement among others, “I consider all factors including my own physical condition satisfactory for this flight.” That’s an all inclusive declaration and sometimes a sick leave (maybe a day or maybe a year) is a good choice for everyone involved.
There are many resources available to help a pilot deal with such decisions, including the pilots union (ALPA) Professional Standards Committee. This committee consists of line pilots who counsel fellow crewmembers confidentially and are committed to maintaining the highest professional standards and performance. Many problems are sometimes solved without company involvement and peer pressure can be a strong motivator.
Once again the myth that first officers are somehow not mission-qualified has been debunked. In this case there was another captain on board to assist, but I assure you the flight would have landed safely in any case. The circumstances of this incident are unprecedented, but incapacitated crewmembers are not, and all first officers are fully qualified to continue the flight unassisted. Great job in this case.
I suppose the investigation will reveal all, and I hope Captain Osbon gets the help he needs. All investigations result in new regulations and all crewmembers will probably be measured for strait jackets in order to enhance the flex cuffs in the security kit.