Hacker told F.B.I. he made plane fly sideways after hacking the in-flight entertainment system
In what could be first incident of a full fledged airplane hacking, a well known hacker has accepted that he took momentary control of an airplane.
Chris Roberts who is based in United States told F.B.I. agents he took momentary control of an airplane’s engines mid-flight by hacking into its inflight entertainment system, according to a document filed in U.S. federal court.
Roberts shot to fame after making a prank tweet from aboard an United Airlines airplane in April and was promptly arrested for the same.
Find myself on a 737/800, lets see Box-IFE-ICE-SATCOM, ? Shall we start playing with EICAS messages? "PASS OXYGEN ON" Anyone ? 🙂
— Sidragon (@Sidragon1) April 15, 2015
The FBI interviews Roberts at least three times by the F.B.I. this year according the the court filing. FBI is currently investigating Robert’s claims that he can take over flight control systems by hacking the inflight entertainment computer.
According to the documents filed in the Court, F.B.I. agents obtained the search warrant on April 17 to probe a number of electronic items seized from Roberts after he arrived in Syracuse, NY, from Chicago on April 15 after making the above tweet.
In the subsequent interviews with FBI agents February and March of this year, Roberts said he hacked the inflight entertainment systems of Boeing and Airbus aircraft, during flights, about 15 to 20 times between 2011 and 2014.
Roberts told the FBI that in one instance, he hacked into an airplane’s thrust management computer and momentarily took control of an engine.
“He stated that he successfully commanded the system he had accessed to issue the ‘CLB’ or climb command. He stated that he thereby caused one of the airplane engines to climb resulting in a lateral or sideways movement of the plane during one of these flights,” said the affidavit, signed by F.B.I. agent Mike Hurley.
Roberts also told the agents he hacked into airplane networks and was able “to monitor traffic from the cockpit system.”
According to the search warrant application, Roberts said he hacked into the systems by accessing the in-flight entertainment system using his laptop and an Ethernet cable.
As of now Roberts has not yet been charged with any crime.