Hoax broad­casts made to pas­sen­ger planes in Mel­bourne

Malta Independent - - WORLD -

Aus­tralian po­lice are in­ves­ti­gat­ing 15 hoax trans­mis­sions made to planes over Mel­bourne, in­clud­ing one that forced a flight to abort its land­ing. The il­le­gal broad­casts were made over sev­eral weeks at Mel­bourne’s main Tul­la­ma­rine and Avalon airports, the Aus­tralian Fed­eral Po­lice said. Lo­cal me­dia re­ported a por­ta­ble ra­dio may have been used to in­ter­fere with air traf­fic con­trol. The in­ci­dents did not pose a con­tin­u­ing threat to safety, the AFP said. ABC News re­ported that a Vir­gin Aus­tralia plane changed al­ti­tude be­fore abort­ing its land­ing af­ter re­ceiv­ing in­struc­tions from a mys­tery per­son on 27 Oc­to­ber. It also aired a record­ing of a con­ver­sa­tion be­tween an air traf­fic con­troller and a per­son pre­tend­ing to be a light air­craft pi­lot giv­ing a may­day call. “I can see you there now. Roger your may­day. Could you please ad­vise what your sit­u­a­tion is,” the air traf­fic con­troller says. “En­gine fail­ure. De­scend­ing pass­ing through 4500,” replies the hoaxer. The AFP’s head of crime op­er­a­tions Chris Shee­han said po­lice were treating the se­cu­rity breach “ex­tremely se­ri­ously”. “These in­ci­dents are be­ing thor­oughly in­ves­ti­gated by the AFP, with tech­ni­cal sup­port from the Aus­tralian Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Me­dia Author­ity,” he said. “The air­lines have been briefed to en­sure the ad­vice has been passed on to their pi­lots and to en­sure ap­pro­pri­ate mea­sures are in place.” Brian Hor­ton, di­rec­tor of fly­ing op­er­a­tions at the Univer­sity of NSW, said mak­ing a hoax trans­mis­sion did not re­quire so­phis­ti­cated equip­ment. He said up­grad­ing se­cu­rity by re­mov­ing VHF ra­dio tech­nol­ogy from planes would be very ex­pen­sive. “It’s never been a prob­lem up un­til now,” he said. Mak­ing unau­tho­rised trans­mis­sions on of­fi­cial air chan­nels in Aus­tralia is pun­ish­able by up to 20 years in jail. Vir­gin Aus­tralia has been con­tacted for com­ment.

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