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Used car dealer menaces air traffic

Dodgy phone chat entertains pilots

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An Ulster used car dealer has had his dodgy cordless phone confiscated after airline pilots were entertained by "Arthur Daley-style banter about makes and prices of used cars", The Daily Mirror reports.

Skyjockeys cruising at 25,000 feet through the Dean Cross air traffic sector - extending from Manchester to central Scotland - had been picking up "snippets of conversation" since last year, leading to concerns that haggling over used Ford Mondeos might "block out vital instructions from controllers on the ground".

One pilot explained: "We could hear the general chit-chat and talk about cars and phone numbers. But we never heard enough to find out who was talking or where it came from. The interference could have caused very serious problems."

The univited banter became worse during this summer, which provoked an e-dragnet by telecoms regulator Ofcom. An "eavesdropping plane" tracked the signal to Northern Ireland, and detector vans moved in for the kill.

An Ofcom spokesman confirmed:"A search warrant was executed at an address in Ballymena on 26 October and an illegal cordless phone was removed. Since then there have been no further cases of interference."

The car dealer in question was reportedly completely oblivious to the kerfuffle his phone had caused. The illegal handset in question had a range of up to 10 miles, compared to 100 metres for pukka kit, The Mirror explains. The good weather during the summer provided perfect conditions for the signal to reach even further for the sky, which accounts for the surge in illicit communications.

The perpetrator of the broadcasts is now minus his cordless, but faces no further action. ®

Bootnote

Thanks to Neil Beggs for the tip-off.

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