By Ioanna Makris
(Reuters) - A JetBlue pilot whose midair meltdown prompted a cross-country flight to make an emergency landing in west Texas last month will plead he was insane at the time of the incident, his lawyer said in a federal court filing on Wednesday.
Attorney Dean Roper filed the notice in U.S. District Court in Amarillo, Texas, saying pilot Clayton Osbon would use an insanity defense.
Osbon, 49, was charged earlier this month with interfering in the operations of a flight crew after he allegedly screamed and pounded on the cockpit door, forcing a March 27 flight from New York to Las Vegas to land in Amarillo.
Osbon was undergoing court-ordered psychiatric examination to determine if he could stand trial. The outcome of those examinations has not been disclosed.
A federal indictment described a harrowing flight during which Osbon had to be subdued and forcibly restrained from re-entering the cockpit.
The FBI said Osbon began saying, "Things just don't matter" while he was at the controls of the Airbus A320 about halfway into the five-hour flight, and that he told the flight's first officer, "We're not going to Vegas."
After the pilot suddenly left the cockpit and started running up and down the aisle, banging on a restroom door, and attempted to force his way back into the locked cockpit, several passengers restrained him until the plane landed.
The FBI said that while he was being restrained, Osbon yelled, "Pray now for Jesus Christ," started yelling about Iraq, Iran and terrorists, and shouted at one point toward the cockpit, "Guys, push it to full throttle!"
Neither Osbon's lawyer nor prosecutors could immediately be reached for comment on the insanity defense.
(Editing by Greg McCune and Peter Cooney)