Cellphones may have caused jet disaster

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The Independent Online
AIR ACCIDENT investigators are trying to discover whether passenger use of mobile phones could be linked to the crash of a Thai Airways plane last December in which 101 people died, including four Britons.

According to a Bangkok newspaper, The Nation, the records of passengers' cellular phones are being checked to see if the fatal descent could be linked to the timing of any calls.

The Airbus A-310 was on an internal flight from Bangkok to the southern town of Surat Thani on 11 December, when it crashed in heavy rain and strong winds. It was the plane's third attempt at landing.

After the second aborted landing, the pilot informed passengers that he was heading to an alternative airport. Sources quoted by The Nation suggest that this could have triggered a flurry of calls from passengers to those waiting for them.

Dozens of mobile phones were found at the scene of the crash. The Nation says investigators are checking passenger telephone records. Use of mobile phones is banned during flights because their signals may interfere with aircraft systems.

Investigators have also been examining other possible causes, including the removal from Surat Thani of a crucial instrument landing system.