FAA to investigate air traffic controller's 'kidding' comment

ATLANTA, June 16 Mon Jun 16, 2014 3:35pm EDT

ATLANTA, June 16 (Reuters) - The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating an air traffic controller's joking remark that caused a Delta jet to abort a landing at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Flight 630 from Detroit was approaching a runway last Wednesday when a controller told the pilot: "630, go around," instructing the plane to circle the airport and attempt another landing, according to audio aired by Atlanta television station WXIA.

The controller then quickly said: "I'm kidding Delta 630. Delta 630, you're clear to land," according to the recording.

The pilot replied: "You sent us around. Delta 630 on the go."

The Boeing 777 landed safely on its second approach, the FAA said in a statement. The agency would not release a copy of the audio.

"An air traffic controller instructed the pilot to make a missed approach, then quickly canceled that clearance and re-cleared him to land," the FAA said on Monday.

A missed approach is a safety procedure that pilots or air traffic controllers can initiate if they determine a landing cannot be completed, according to the FAA, which did not indicate such a precaution was needed for Flight 630.

The plane was about 1,000 feet (300 metres) off the ground when it aborted the first landing, WXIA reported. (Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Peter Cooney)

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