Man arrested over bogus radio calls at Melbourne and Avalon airports

A file image of the scene from inside the Melbourne Tullamarine air traffic control tower. (Airservices)
A file image of the scene from inside the Melbourne Tullamarine air traffic control tower. (Airservices)

Australian Federal Police has arrested and charged a 19-year-old Victorian man alleged to be behind unauthorised radio transmissions with aircraft and air traffic controllers at Melbourne and Avalon airports.

The man has been charged with four counts of endangering the safety of aircraft and one count of interference likely to endanger safety or cause loss or damage.

The charges relate to 16 separate unauthorised radio transmissions at Melbourne and Avalon airports between September 5 and November 3, the AFP said in a statement on Tuesday.

AFP head of crime operations, acting Assistant Commissioner Chris Sheehan, thanked Airservices, the Australian Communications Media Authority (ACMA), Qantas and Virgin Australia for their assistance as part of the investigation.

“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 in a statement on Tuesday.

“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 Southern operations manager Steven Clarke reassured the public there was no current threat to safety.

“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.

In the audio of one incident obtained by the ABC, someone pretending to be a pilot can be heard telling air traffic control his aircraft has suffered an engine failure.

Another incident involved a flight from Gold Coast to Melbourne where pilots of the aircraft aborted their landing after receiving instructions from someone pretending to be air traffic control.

Comments

  1. IWS says

    The law enforcement agencies that were behind the successful arrest of this “pelican” must really be congratulated on a job very well done. It could not have been easy to track this person down and be in a position to make an arrest. As a “casual” observer of the aviation industry I don’t whether this type of incident has ever happened before but the seriousness of what this person did could not be under-stated. A good job by all concerned.

  2. Roy Fordham says

    Sadly ” They walk, and Talk among us.
    Having been involved in the aviation industry myself,
    I have heard ‘Buffoons’ ,or Cretins, to add to their stupidity, boast that they have acted in this way before.
    This guy should receive, and actually serve, the Maximum Penalty behind bars,
    But with our justice system today, he probably wont serve any time behind bars, maybe a fine, or wrist slap.

  3. Taurean Lea says

    All congratulations must go to the Australian Federal Police for arresting this responsible troublemaker over bogus radio calls at Avalon and Melbourne Airports. This HUGE incident has put thousands of lives in great, horrible danger of aviation disasters and some have freaked out so much that they needed to be taken to mental hospitals around Victoria!!!! TO THE PARENTS OF THIS 19 YR OLD MAN, IF YOU ARE SEEING THIS COMMENT, CAN YOU PLEASE PUNISH HIM SWIFTLY AND SEVERLY AND PLEASE GROUND HIM AND HELP THE COURTS SENTENCE HIM TO JAIL!!!!!!!!!!!!