The Australian Federal Police has charged a man over a series of hoax calls to pilots and air traffic controllers at Melbourne airports, ABC News reported yesterday.
A 19-year-old man was arrested following an investigation into 16 separate incidents, including one in which a Virgin Australia flight from the Gold Coast aborted its landing, close to touching down at Melbourne Airport. See: Hoaxing hacker forces plane to abort Melbourne landing
The allegedly unauthorised radio transmissions were made between September and November.
The AFP said the arrest followed its investigation, carried out with the assistance of Airservices Australia, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and Victoria Police.
Between 5 September 2016 and 3 November 2016, there were 16 separate unauthorised radio transmissions at Melbourne Airport and Avalon Airport causing interference with air traffic control.
An AFP statement said that on 21 November 2016, the AFP arrested a man and subsequently charged him with:
- four counts of endangering the safety of aircraft contrary to Section 25(2)(b) of the Crimes (Aviation) Act 1991 (Commonwealth); and
- one count of interference likely to endanger safety or cause loss or damage contrary to Section 194 of the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (Commonwealth).
The man is scheduled to appear before the Melbourne Magistrates Court this afternoon.
The AFP’s head of Crime Operations, acting Assistant Commissioner Chris Sheehan said this arrest demonstrates how law enforcement takes the safety of the airline industry very seriously.
“The current security measures in place for the airline industry are robust, and the traveling public should be reassured we are treating this matter appropriately,” Sheehan said.
“These incidents were thoroughly investigated by the AFP with the technical support of Airservices and the ACMA.
“The offences this 19-year-old man faces carry a maximum penalty of up to 20 years imprisonment.”
“The AFP also acknowledges the close working relationship with Qantas and Virgin Australia Group and the assistance provided particularly during the early stages of the investigation,” Sheehan said.
Airservices said there is no current threat to the safety and security of the travelling public as a result of these alleged radio transmissions in Victoria.
“Airservices worked closely with the AFP throughout this investigation to ensure the safety and security of the travelling public,” Airservices Southern Operations Manager Steven Clarke said.
“Airservices has appropriate procedures, processes and systems in place to ensure the safety of aviation operations at Melbourne and Avalon airports, and across the country and for the travelling public,” Clarke said.
The ACMA uses a range of technologies and techniques to investigate and locate the sources of unauthorized or interfering transmissions across the radio frequency spectrum.
The ACMA reminds members of the public that making unauthorised transmissions may constitute a serious offence under the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (Commonwelath).
The man appeared in court briefly yesterday afternoon. He did not apply for bail.
He is due to reappear in the Melbourne Magistrate’s Court next week.
Written by Peter Needham