Cellphone man in jet scare faces jail

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AN OIL worker was told he faced imprisonment after being found guilty of endangering an international flight by failing to switch off his mobile phone.

Manchester Crown Court heard that Neil Whitehouse, 28, from Mansfield, refused to switch off the mobile during a British Airways Madrid- Manchester flight in September. After telling Whitehouse he faced jail, Judge Anthony Ensor urged aviation authorities to introduce tough laws to crack down on phone use in aircraft.

Whitehouse was found guilty of "recklessly and negligently" endangering the Boeing 737. He is understood to be the first passenger prosecuted under the 1995 Air Navigation Order. Judge Ensor adjourned sentence for three weeks to receive probation reports.

Whitehouse attracted the attention of the crew when seen typing "I love you" on his phone's text face. When told it would interfere with the plane's navigation, he said: "Why? Are we going to get lost?"

An expert said that even though Whitehouse made no calls, the phone would have sent signals that could have interfered with the flight's navigation and auto pilot and could have shut the on-board computer.

The judge remanded Whitehouse on conditional bail until 21 July.