Teen charged with air traffic control hoax faces 20 years

Teen charged with fake air traffic control calls

Steve Creedy - editor

23 Nov 2016

Authorities combine to track transmissions.

Melbourne air traffic control tower. Source: Airservices Australia

A  19-year-old Australian man faces up to 20 years in prison after allegedly sending  fake air traffic control transmissions and endangering the safety of aircraft at two Victorian airports.

An investigation involving the Australian federal Police, air navigation provider Airservices Australia, Victoria Police and Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and Victoria Police used a”a range of technologies and techniques’’ to track down the source of unauthorised transmissions.

Police allege there were  16 separate unauthorised radio transmissions at Melbourne Airport and Avalon Airport causing interference with air traffic control between September 5 and November 3.

One call reportedly caused a Virgin Australia flight to abort a landing.

Paul Sant,  from Rockbank in Victoria,  was  charged with four counts of endangering the safety of aircraft and  one one count of interference likely to endanger safety or cause loss or damage.  He appeared briefly in Melbourne Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday and was remanded until next week.

 “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,” acting Assistant Commissioner Chris Sheehan said in a statement.

“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.”

Airservices said appropriate procedures, processes and systems had been  in place to ensure the safety of aviation operations at Melbourne and Avalon airports.