Air traffic controller 'joke' delays plane's landing

Air traffic controller 'joke' delays plane's landing

Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Delta Air Lines jets are parked at John F. Kennedy International Airport, Tuesday, April 20, 2010 in New York.

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by USA TODAY

USA TODAY

Posted on June 16, 2014 at 10:42 AM

ATLANTA — A joke by an air traffic controller is under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration after it caused a plane to delay landing at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on June 11.

According to the FAA, the pilot of Delta Flight 630 was just over 1,000 feet off the ground and preparing to land a Boeing 777 from Detroit, when an air traffic controller told them not to land and instead to circle the airport. Seconds later, the air traffic controller said, "I'm kidding, Delta 630. After you land, I've got no one behind you. Expect to exit right."

While the controller quickly told the pilot to disregard his earlier instructions as a joke, the pilot had already called off the landing.

The FAA released a prepared statement, saying "The FAA is investigating air traffic communications with Delta 630, a Boeing 777 aircraft on approach to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport."

The FAA will not discuss any potential discipline until the investigation is complete.

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