A Potentially Dangerous Joke By an Air Traffic Controller?

This is the view of the control tower — from which the joke by an air traffic controller occurred at the international airport which serves the Atlanta metropolitan area — as seen from the Sky Deck of the Delta Sky Club on Concourse F. Photograph by FlyerTalk member pointsaway. Click on the photograph for other photographs by pointsaway and other FlyerTalk members in a discussion pertaining to a guide to all of the Delta Sky Clubs at that airport.

If this story is accurate, then it is one of the most moronic actions I have heard related to commercial aviation.

The Federal Aviation Administration of the United States is investigating what is being called “a potentially dangerous prank” which an air traffic controller allegedly played on the pilots of a Boeing 777-200 aircraft filled with passengers which operated as Delta Air Lines flight 630 from Nagoya — via a stop in Detroit — and was about to land at the international airport which serves the Atlanta metropolitan area.

The air traffic controller — who is unidentified at this time — allegedly told the pilots not to land and instead circle the airport while the aircraft was at an altitude of approximately 1,000 feet. 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.”

Although the air traffic controller supposedly said he was just joking immediately after instructing the pilots to circle the airport, the pilots had already aborted the landing, could not resume the touchdown, and were forced to circle the airport for another attempt to land.

The aircraft landed safely after its second attempt during this incident, which reportedly occurred in the late afternoon on Wednesday, June 11, 2014.

Coincidentally, this was not the first incident involving an aircraft operating as Delta Air Lines flight 630. Almost one year ago in a completely unrelated incident with a different airplane, FlyerTalk members were attempting to figure out what was the status of that flight when its flight pattern became irregular, as the Boeing 747-400 aircraft was apparently diverted to Seattle due to possible mechanical issues — but I digress.

What would compel an air traffic controller to pull a sick joke such as giving false instructions to a pilot with a full load of passengers is beyond my comprehension. Not only did I not find the joke funny; but I did not even understand it.

I would first like to find out more details as the result of the investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration. If the information is indeed accurate, then that air traffic controller should be punished to the fullest extent, in my opinion.

What do you think?

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Comments (Showing 10 of 10)

  • Disarray at 2:15am June 16, 2014

    I’m not suprised. The controller’s union, NATCA, will see to it the controller responsible is not held accountable. At worst, he will be referred to “Professional Standards”.

  • Josh Davis at 6:00am June 16, 2014

    Agreed that it’s incomprehsible. It’s just, well, weird… Don’t know if I’d call it a ‘sick joke’ though

  • Dianne47 at 2:43pm June 16, 2014

    The controller should be fired immediately. Lives were put in jeopardy by his stupid stunt. There is no room in the FAA for such an idiot.

  • starflyer at 5:35pm June 16, 2014

    President Obama lies all the time – if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor, if you like your healthcare plan you can keep your healthcare plan. And what trouble does he get in? Ricw and Hillary lie about Benghazi, nothing happens. Department of Homeland Security is responsible for the security of our borders, yet thousands of illegal aliens are allowed to cross daily without being sent back. None of these people are held accountable. Yet an air traffic controller who tells a fib or a joke, and all of a sudden people take notice or the responsible party should be held accountable? I think not. Welcome to the New America my friend.

  • HatAndJacket at 7:42pm June 16, 2014

    He should be fired. Done.

  • glx at 6:57am June 17, 2014

    Shut up, starflyer.

  • JackE at 11:52am June 17, 2014

    It’s not just the danger, which was small but more than zero. Passengers were delayed. Some might have missed a connecting flight.

    It’s sad, but the ATC needs to find another profession.

  • judyserienagy at 8:05pm June 17, 2014

    Uh … they had to abort the landing and make a circle and then land? Methinks too much is being made out of a dumb comment by an air traffic controller. Get a life, guys, it was dumb and I’m sure he regrets it and everyone should just move on.

  • sethb at 2:53pm June 24, 2014

    He should regret the loss of his job while everyone just moves on.

  • drphun at 4:24pm June 24, 2014

    It doesn’t sound real.

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