Last week's incident in which a JetBlue pilot's behavior caused a plane to be diverted may highlight how mental issues can get in the way of being able to perform one's job properly. He is set to undergo a mental evaluation to see if he is suffering from a mental illness and perhaps not fit to stand trial.
The man was a co-pilot on a flight from New York to Las Vegas. He apparently interfered with the flight crew and was banging on the cockpit door when they shut him out. He was also reciting numbers and referred to "sins in Las Vegas." Passengers say he also mentioned Jesus and terrorists, among other things. Passengers ultimately subdued him, the flight was diverted to Texas and he was evaluated at a hospital.
Clearly his condition, whatever it was, interfered with his ability to do his job. Now prosecutors are wondering if he is fit to stand trial, or if he could be "mentally incompetent" to the extent that he would not understand what happens at trial. If he is convicted of interfering with the flight crew, the 49-year-old man could face a $250,000 fine and as long as 20 years in prison.
According to Bloomberg, a U.S. District Court judge granted the government's request for a mental evaluation, which is set to take place at a federal medical facility to determine if the pilot was "legally insane" at the time of the incident.
His case is highly unusual for its circumstances. However, being unable to work because of a mental disorder is quite common. Mental illness is recognized by the Social Security Administration as an impairment that can sometimes qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
Source: Bloomberg, "JetBlue pilot to get mental exam after diverted flight, arrest," Joel Rosenblatt, April 4, 2012
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