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.