BA flies despite a ringing mobile

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The Independent Online
THE PILOT of a British Airways jet decided to ignore a ringing mobile phone and took off from Glasgow airport - just two days after a passenger was jailed for 12 months for refusing to switch off his phone on an aircraft.

The pilot's action, on BA1487 flight from Glasgow to Heathrow on 23 July, defied evidence presented in the court case that led to the conviction of Neil Hamilton, 28, for "recklessly and negligently endangering" an aircraft. He had refused to turn off his mobile phone on a flight from Madrid to Manchester in September 1998. His conviction was the first under the 1995 Air Navigation Order.

Experts testified that radio interference from Hamilton's phone could have sparked an explosion or affected the plane's navigation equipment and control systems.

Yet Paul Plater, a passenger on the Glasgow aircraft, said that the pilot and cabin crew made only a perfunctory search of overhead lockers after hearing a phone ringing. When they did not find it, the pilot decided to take off anyway, as he did not want to miss his "slot".

Mr Plater wrote to Robert Ayling, the chief executive of BA, and was told "the correct steps were taken" as "the captain was able to monitor the situation".

The effects of mobiles on aircraft have not been scientifically established, although there is anecdotal evidence from pilots of phone- related problems.