JetBlue pilot Clayton Osbon in-flight meltdown: What if he was armed?

JetBlue pilot Clayton Osbon had to be restrained during his outburst. (Photo: Steve Miller)

The mystery surrounding what exactly led to JetBlue pilot Clayton Osbon to have a mental breakdown on a New York-to-Las Vegas flight remains.

One thing that has analysts and experts breathing a little easier, though, is the fact that sources tell ABC7 News that Osbon, who had to be restrained by passengers in the midst of a rant about Iraq, Israel and the plane being "doomed," was not one of many pilots trained to carry a gun on board.

According to an FBI affidavit, Osbon alarmed his co-pilot when he said "things just don't matter" and shouted at air traffic controllers to be quiet. He was then locked out of the cockpit, after which his tirade escalated.

Osbon remains in custody on charges of interfering with a flight crew. He has been suspended by JetBlue and removed from active duty pending an investigation into the incident.

Now, travelers and aviation experts have been left to wonder what would have happened if he was armed, as many pilots have been since Sept. 11.

"We not only would have had a person who was not necessarily capable of flying, but also armed," traveler Carl Batt said.

U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack was one of the first pilots trained to carry a gun in the cockpit after Sept. 11, and he's now pushing for a bill that would allow more pilots to carry pistols while flying.

He says, though, that before pilots can be armed, they must go through extensive background checks and psychological evaluations.

"A pilot is volunteering to do this because they want to protect the country and protect the flying public," Cravaack said.

For some air travelers, though, extensive background checks don't provide a whole lot of comfort.

"If we're not making sure they're being taken care of, how can we expect them to take care of their passengers?" traveler Rachel Russell said.

In a statement, officials with the Federal Flight Deck Officer Program say arming pilots provides an additional layer of security. They add that thousands of federal, state and local law enforcement officers who fly every day are trained to use force on planes to protect passengers.