Nightmare Scenario: Man Arrested for Impersonating Air Traffic Control, Issuing Fake Takeoff Instructions

Two years ago someone was pretending to be Melbourne, Australia air traffic control. A Virgin Australia flight from Gold Coast was instructed to land by this person — the plane came witin 275 feet of the runway before the real air traffic control waved them off. The Boeing 737 climbed to 3800 feet and made a go-round.

Frighteningly that seems not to have been a one-off. A man has been arrested for pulling that same stunt in Buenos Aires.

Copyright: cylonphoto / 123RF Stock Photo

Last month a man with a radio standing near Buenos Aires’s Jorge Newbery Airport (AEP), the primary hub fro domestic and regional flights, issued takeoff instructions to Aerolíneas Argentinas flight AR1694 to Bariloche in Patagonia.

The intruder instructed the captain to take off in the direction of Bariloche on runway 13. The vector data was apparently wrong, and it made the pilot doubt.

He finally managed to get in touch with the tower again. The air traffic controller alerted the airport police, who arrested a man near the airport with amateur radio.

…The suspect, a 60-year-old man, acquired his amateur radio license in 2009 as a private pilot. He now faces imprisonment of up to eight years. His intervention could have led to a tragedy.

Die Hard 2, Pushing Tin, and 2:22 are movies not something to try at home.

(HT: Jordan Allen)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Way too theatrical and unrealistic. They’re was entirely too many unsafe issues that brought much discredit upon this profession. Please the producers know that safety is number one and all of those unnecessary risk aren’t introduced into the NAS (National Airspace System).

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