Plane panic after pilot's announcement about 'mom' confused with 'bomb'
A pilot who used his plane's intercom to send birthday greetings to a colleague's mother triggered panic on board after passengers thought he said "bomb" rather than "mom".
The unnamed Southwest Airlines pilot was asked by an air traffic controller to wish his mother a happy birthday as he flew from Baltimore, Maryland, to New York's MacArthur airport in Islip, Long Island, on Friday.
Taking to the plane's intercom, the pilot told passengers that they had a "mom on board," however, many thought he said a "bomb on board".
Panicking passengers asked other members of the crew to clarify what the pilot had said, and were assured that there was no bomb. The pilot also went back on the intercom to explain his remarks.
But several passengers have now complained to the authorities about the announcement.
Brandi King, spokesman for Southwest Airlines, said: "The pilot made an announcement that was misunderstood.
"He did clarify with the passengers that he was wishing the mother on board a happy birthday."
The spokesman added that the air traffic controller had been working out of the Terminal Radar Approach in Westbury, Long Island, when he contacted the pilot and requested that he send a birthday message to his mother, who was on the plane.
In a statement, the Federal Aviation Administration said: "Pilots and controllers will sometimes engage in brief greetings.
"If such conversations go beyond this limit, controllers are counselled to refrain from such unnecessary talk."
The FAA has launched a review into the air traffic controller's request. The pilot, who reported the incident to the authorities at Southwest, is not under investigation.