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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 May, 2003, 16:00 GMT 17:00 UK
'Phone threat' to air safety
By Tom Symonds and Simon Montague
BBC Transport Correspondents

mobile phone
A text could freeze compasses

There is new evidence passengers using mobile phones endanger aircraft, according to a Civil Aviation Authority report obtained by BBC News Online.

In tests, compasses froze or overshot, navigation bearings were inaccurate and there was interference on radio channels.

Research supports pilots who have complained about mobiles interfering with aircraft systems and distractions in cockpits, the report says.

It urges airlines to impose safety measures including:

  • Ensuring flight crews turn off mobiles on the flight deck
  • Check-in staff asking passengers to confirm mobiles in hold luggage are off
  • Reminder notices in airport departure lounges and boarding gates

Since 1996, pilots have reported 35 mobile phone-related safety incidents, including false warnings in the cockpit, distractions causing aircraft to stray accidentally onto runways or fly at the wrong altitude, interrupted radio communications and multiple safety systems malfunctions.

Last September, factory worker Faiz Chopdat from Blackburn was jailed for four months after being convicted of recklessly endangering an aircraft.

He repeatedly refused to turn off his mobile phone on an Air 2000 flight from Egypt to Manchester.

And in October, Russian businessman Sergey Lebedev was fined 2,500 after forcing a British Airways jet to abort a landing at Manchester Airport.

Cabin crew spent so long arguing with him about whether he would turn off his mobile they were unable to prepare the plane.

Phone hampered jet's landing
13 Oct 02  |  England

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