http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victor ... 13fc353db6[/url]
ANYONE can walk off the street and buy a radio transceiver to illegally communicate with commercial aircraft and potentially cause a major catastrophe, it has emerged.
In a Herald Sun investigation, a radio transceiver was bought for $400 without the need to fill out paperwork, or show identification.
Transceivers are legal to own and listen to but using them to interfere with aircraft is illegal, the Australian Communication Media Authority said.
Those caught communicating with aircraft can face up to 20 years in jail.
It comes after the Australian Federal Police launched an investigation into 15 reported incidents in recent weeks of unauthorised radio transmissions to aircraft at Melbourne and Avalon airports. In the wrong hands, a transceiver can be used to communicate with the cockpit of a plane and potentially divert a plane to land and another take off at the same time.
Lincoln Robinson who has an extensive background in various sectors of the industry, including avionics, said the potential was for a “deadly disaster”.
“Worst-case scenario, a person could tell an aircraft to land and another to take off at the same time and on intersecting runways,” Mr Robinson said.
“You don’t need to be an expert to work out what the outcome would be.
“I understand some people are fascinated by planes or have an interest in aircraft, that’s fine, but invest in a scanner.
“Why do you need a transceiver that gives you the ability to communicate with aircraft?
“People who buy transceivers are buying them to cause trouble and interfere with aircraft and there needs to be more security around them.”
Air traffic controllers union Civil Air president Tom McRobert urged authorities to secure the radio frequency.
“Maybe a look needs to be taken at making the frequencies used by air traffic controllers more secure or at least more difficult to hijack,” he said.
Mr McRobert also wants people buying transceivers to be required to produce identification.
Senator Nick Xenophon described anyone who made hoax calls with the intention of disrupting the aviation industry as “scum”. “This is not a harmless prank and I think the penalties need to be reviewed because of the lives that can be put at risk,” Senator Xenophon said yesterday.
“These hoax calls could have the same consequences as a terrorist crash, and could easily turn into a weapon of destruction.”
The AFP’s Head of Crime Operation, Acting Assistant Commissioner Chris Sheehan, said Airservices Australia and the AFP were “treating this matter extremely seriously.”