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Hundreds of U.S. Pilots Treated for Drug Abuse and Psychiatric Disorders, Review Finds

By Jessica Heslam

Boston Herald

Hundreds of commercial and private U.S. pilots have been diagnosed and treated for a broad array of serious psychiatric and medical conditions, including schizophrenia, attempted suicide, sexual deviance, alcoholism and drug abuse, a Herald review has found.

The review comes in the wake of a chilling episode at Logan International Airport four months ago involving a distraught JetBlue [JBLU] pilot who threatened to “harm himself in spectacular fashion” an hour before takeoff - an incident that sent shudders through airline passengers across the country.

Medical record data from 2008, 2009 and 2010 provided by the Federal Aviation Administration under a public records request show:

-- 15 pilots - including one from Massachusetts - have been treated for or diagnosed with schizophrenia.

-- Another 292 pilots have attempted suicide, including five Bay Staters.

-- 2,700 pilots have been treated for alcohol abuse, including 34 from Massachusetts, and another 1,253 have been diagnosed as alcoholics - including 20 Bay Staters.

-- 1,377 pilots have been treated for drug abuse - 23 from Massachusetts - and another 94 for drug dependence.

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