Computer hacker claims he made plane fly sideways

Security researcher told FBI he has accessed inflight entertainment systems

Updated: 
Computer hacker claims he made plane fly sideways


An FBI affidavit has revealed that a leading security researcher took control of a plane and made it fly sideways after hacking into its inflight entertainment system.

Chris Roberts flew with United Airlines from Denver to Chicago on 15 April. During the flight, he tweeted about the possibility of accessing the plane's inflight entertainment system.

The FBI sent an agent to inspect the flight when it arrived in Philadelphia, where it had flown after Chicago.

The agent inspected the Seat Electronic Box below seats 2A and 2B and found evidence of damage and tampering, reports the Independent.

Mr Roberts said he hacked into the plane's network through the Seat Electronic Box, which is installed under passenger seats on some commercial aircraft.

He removed the box's cover by "wiggling and squeezing" before plugging in a modified Cat6 ethernet cable attached to his laptop.

He then gained access to the inflight entertainment system and other networks on the planes.

Mr Roberts was taken into custody when he landed in Syracuse, NY, from Chicago.

A search warrant allowed officers to seize his computer.

According to an FBI search warrant Roberts told agents he had previously hacked into inflight entertainment centres on Boeing 737s, 757s and Airbus A-320 aircraft "15 to 20 times."

He said he was even able to make a climb command to an unidentified plane's engine by overwriting code on the plane's Thrust Management Computer.

According to Sky News, FBI Special Agent Mark Hurley wrote in the search warrant application: "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."

Mr Roberts is head of One World Labs, which works to identify security risks before they are exploited.

He has not been charge with any crimes.

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