Authorities To Investigate Transmissions From Sub Base
The Australian Transport Safety
Bureau said on Friday that it intends to investigate the
possibility that communications signals, originating from Harold E.
Holt Naval Communications Base in Western Australia, may have
caused interference with flight control systems aboard a Qantas
airliner last month.
Calling the idea "highly unlikely," Base Manager Russell Levien
said that if signals from the Base were to blame, planes would
regularly be affected by them. "We'd have planes down all around us
if it was us (who caused the problem)," he said.
The incident occurred about 100 miles from Holt Naval Base,
which uses very low frequency signals to communicate with US and
Australian submarines in the area, The Weekend Australian said.
After reviewing transmissions on the day of the incident, Levien
said he did not find anything unusual. He also checked with similar
naval communication bases around the world -- including a US Naval
Station at Cutler, ME -- none of which had received any reports of
their transmissions interfering with aircraft.
As ANN reported, the Qantas flight was enroute
from Singapore to Perth on October 7 when pilots received alarms
about "some irregularity with the aircraft's elevator control
system", before a 300-foot uncommanded ascent followed by an abrupt
350-foot nosedive occurred, injuring numerous passengers and
Latest reports list 70 people were injured in the incident, 14
of them seriously. Initially blamed on clear air turbulence, a
later theory speculated in-flight use of a lap-top computer may
have interfered with the plane's flight control systems.
Further research into the cause of the incident is expected to
be conducted this week at Northrop Grumman's US facilities, as
experts test a component possibly at fault for sending errant
signals to the plane's flight control computers.