BA flies despite ringing mobiles

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The Independent Online
A PILOT of a British Airways jet ignored a ringing mobile phone, and took off from Glasgow airport just two days after an air passenger was imprisoned for 12 months for refusing to switch off his phone on an aircraft.

The pilot's action, on BA1487 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 during a flight from Madrid to Manchester in 1998.

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

Yet Paul Plater, a passenger on the Glasgow aircraft, said the pilot and cabin crew made only a perfunctory search 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, BA's chief executive, and was told in reply that "the correct steps were taken" because "the captain was able to monitor the situation".

The effects of mobile phones on aircraft have never been scientifically established, though there is anecdotal evidence of phone-related problems.