Delta pilot fails to get the joke as he is ordered to circle Atlanta airport

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 June, 2014, 9:46pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 June, 2014, 9:46pm

The US Federal Aviation Administration is investigating an air traffic controller's joking remark that caused a Delta jet to abort a landing at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta.

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 cancelled 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.