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Police Hunt Hoax Caller After Aircraft Radios Hacked In Melbourne

The Australian Federal Police want assistance from the public.

08/11/2016 7:31 AM AEDT | Updated 08/11/2016 8:01 AM AEDT
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Jason Reed / Reuters
A prankster has been messing with aircraft radios in Melbourne, the AFP says.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) wants the public's help to track down a hoax caller who has been pranking aircraft flying to Melbourne and Avalon airports.

The AFP is investigating 15 incidents of unauthorised radio transmissions with aircraft after media reports that a hoax call caused a Virgin passenger flight to abort landing as it approached Melbourne Airport.

That call, made on October 27 using air traffic control frequency from an unknown location, reportedly caused Virgin Australia flight 740 to change altitude and course.

The AFP said while there was currently no threat to air safety from the calls it hoped the public could help catch the offender.

"The AFP, Airservices, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and the aviation industry are all committed to ensuring the safety of the travelling public and we are treating this matter extremely seriously," AFP Assistant Commissioner Chris Sheehan said.

"These incidents are being thoroughly investigated by the AFP, with technical support from the ACMA.

"The airlines have been briefed to ensure the advice has been passed on to their pilots and to ensure appropriate measures are in place."

The AFP has been sought for more details on how passenger safety is not being put at risk due to the calls.

According to the ABC, it is believed the hoax caller found a way to hack into the air traffic control frequency and talk directly with aircraft and control towers.

After interfering with Virgin Australia flight 740, the troublesome caller reportedly impersonated the pilot of a light aircraft and sent a mayday call about engine trouble.

The Seven Network has reported that the offender was illegally using a portable transmitter, potentially operating from a parked car.

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