JetBlue captain removed from active duty pending reviews

Aviation security expert Charles Slepian reacts


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," March 28,2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF "YOUR WORLD": All right, what do you do when your pilot freaks out? Everyone in the country is asking that the day after. Fasten your seat belt because this thing is a lot bigger than JetBlue.

Welcome, everyone. I am Neil Cavuto.

And JetBlue today removing Captain Clayton Osbon from active duty after he snapped on a flight from New York to Las Vegas. Snapped might just be a kind word. He went crazy, running up the aisles, ranting about a bomb, screaming that they will take us down. It didn’t end until he was physically restrained by passengers. Initially, JetBlue calling the captain a consummate professional, describing the incident as a medical situation.

But this is not the first time we have seen this. Just weeks ago, an American Airlines flight attendant also went on a rant and had to be restrained.

And who could forget Steven Slater, the JetBlue flight attendant arrested after he swore at a passenger, grabbed a beer and jumped down the emergency chute?

Now, aviation security expert Charles Slepian says there is no excuse for this type of behavior and fears we will see a lot more of it.

What is going on?

CHARLES SLEPIAN, CEO, FORESEEABLE RISK ANALYSIS CENTER: I think what is happening is we are reporting the most outrageous events as though they were something special. And they are, in a sense, I guess. But these events are taking place at a lower level all the time.

There are passengers who become outraged, flight attendants who become outraged at the passengers, ticket agents who act up. This is happening all the time, as though there were a magnetic field around the airport that attacks lunatics.

CAVUTO: But it is just the pressure? For those who are working in the industry, let's say the pilots, where they have seen cuts in pay, cuts in benefits, they’re working longer hauls, they have got a lot of pressure on them, the flight attendants I guess the same thing. But it seems like everyone is kind of collectively snapping at the same time.

SLEPIAN: Well, as I say, it is happening not only in that field. It happens among police officers. And it happens in hospital attendants, schoolteachers, your next-door neighbor.

CAVUTO: Yes, but here we’re seeing it -- I think what brings us together on planes -- we all fly, right? And we’re all worried about them. And we all worry that at least the pilot is the Rock of Gibraltar. You might have a loony flight attendant now and then, but we kind of trust that the reason why we guard the cockpit is so that no one gets in there. Now in this case you had to worry about someone who was in it.

SLEPIAN: Which can happen, but it is not the first time. I would remind you of Egypt Air.


SLEPIAN: And that was the co-pilot, I believe, who drove it into the earth. Anything can happen. But we screen our pilots pretty well.

CAVUTO: Oh, no doubt, no doubt, and I don't say this is a general rule.

But I guess what has brought it to our attention is the fact of so many recent cases. You are arguing we will see more of this because, what, the pressure are there, we are going into a busy travel season; everyone is going to be worked to the limit, or what?

SLEPIAN: Well, there are changes in how we travel on airplanes now, too. More people are packing more junk in their bags to take on the plane because it costs so much to check your baggage.

Now we are fighting over bin space, we're fighting over floor space, we are cramming people together, flights are long. Some people have to get up from the window seat to cross over the other passengers to get to the aisle, to get to the lavatory to wait in line. They get angry and they become concerned.

Flight attendants are serving drinks and then they wonder why some passengers have had more than they can handle.

CAVUTO: But I am more worried -- I guess it always comes to me that the guy flying the plane. I'm worried about that, because that is the guy I trust to be calm, that is the guy I trust to be OK through all this.

And in 99.9 percent of the cases I am sure that is the reality, but am I going to see more of this type of stuff this summer?

SLEPIAN: I think you will unless we put in place the right protocols when a pilot starts to act erratic, even when he is too cheerful on his intercom, when he is not acting...


CAVUTO: Well, how can you tell? First of all, when they tell you about your altitude and everything else, can anyone hear that? Because the noise of the plane is such that I cannot hear a word he's saying.

SLEPIAN: Well, sometimes, they get on there and they are singing and they are rhyming over the intercom. The co-pilot...


CAVUTO: Really?

SLEPIAN: Oh, yes, some airlines.

CAVUTO: Sure you were not having a few drinks?

SLEPIAN: Well, maybe. But I wish I did, but I don't. But in any event...

CAVUTO: But do we have to start looking at the pilots now?

SLEPIAN: I think we have to look at everybody.

Stress is everywhere, people are losing jobs and people are losing homes. People are hearing that Iran will nuke us; they are hearing that North Korea will nuke us. We go from day to day facing stresses that we do not articulate about. We just swallow it.

If it happens to a pilot, we are in serious trouble, unless we have got some protocols in there that stop it right away.

CAVUTO: Well, thank God for those snack carts blocking the way to the cockpit, because no one is going to get past that.

Man, oh, man.

All right, thank you, Charles.

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