'Mom' scare on Southwest flight

A file photo of passengers at the curb-side A file photo of passengers at the curb-side check-in at Islip's MacArthur Airport. (Jan. 7, 2010) Photo Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

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A pilot's announcement Friday on a Southwest Airlines flight to Long Island MacArthur Airport is being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration after some passengers heard "bomb on board" instead of "mom on board," authorities said.

The pilot of Flight 1155 from Baltimore told the 100 or so passengers that an air traffic controller's mother was on the plane, said Southwest spokeswoman Whitney Eichinger.

"Just making a fun announcement -- just letting everyone know she was on board," Eichinger said Friday night.

But some passengers thought they heard "bomb" and were alarmed, FAA and Southwest officials said.

"There was some confusion on board," Eichinger said, noting that flight attendants did their best to explain what the pilot said.

The announcement was made about noon. When the plane landed at MacArthur a half-hour later, two passengers complained to airport security, which called Suffolk police, an FAA official said.

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Eichinger said it's not clear what prompted the in-flight announcement, but the FAA official said it was at the behest of an air traffic controller at the agency's Westbury facility, where air traffic controllers work, guiding planes in the area to local airports before handing control over to airport towers.

The FAA official said the controller wanted to wish her mother a happy birthday.

Such a personal request is not a firing offense but the controller's supervisor may suggest retraining on what's appropriate, the FAA official said.

Investigators are trying to figure out exactly what was said in the announcement and plan to listen to flight recordings, the official said.

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