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28146: Hermantin(news)Pirate radio signals interfere with pilots (fwd)
From: leonie hermantin <email@example.com>
Pirate radio signals interfere with pilots
By Ken Kaye
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
March 21, 2006
Pilots hoping to hear "cleared to land" at Miami International Airport instead
have been greeted by hip-hop and Haitian music over their radios in the past
The tunes might be catchy, but the broadcasts are illegal, interrupting
"It's a nightmare," Jim Marinitti, president of the Miami Tower branch of the
National Air Traffic Controllers Association, said Monday.
The music apparently is airing from two pirate radio stations, one in Opa-Locka
and the other in Lauderdale Lakes. Authorities have been unable to find the
operators and shut them down.
The problem is the broadcasts sporadically bleed over to two aviation
frequencies, one for the Miami control tower and the other for departure
control. Although controllers cannot hear the music, pilots can be, and have
been, blocked from clearly hearing instructions.
So far there have been no close calls at the bustling Miami airport, which
handles more than 1,100 daily flights. But an accident could be waiting,
"It's sporadic, but it always seems to happen at the most inopportune time, as
soon as traffic starts to pick up," he said.
A radio station that calls itself Da Streetz, at 107.1 FM, has been identified
as one source of the music, said Paige Patterson-Hughes, spokeswoman for the
Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
State agents think it had been broadcasting from an Opa-Locka warehouse after
they confiscated an antenna, computers, a sound-mixing board and other
equipment there on March 3. However, authorities have yet to find the
transmitter or identify the people who operate the station.
On Monday, that station played Creole melodies, and Creole-speaking disc
jockeys took caller requests.
The Federal Aviation Administration identified a second illegal radio site in
Lauderdale Lakes, said agency spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen. That information was
turned over to the Federal Communications Commission, she said.
Federal laws prohibit anyone from transmitting over the radio waves without a
license. Florida also put an anti-piracy law into effect a year ago that
forbids anyone from interfering with a public or commercial station.
Last July, the state shut down a pirate station in Fort Lauderdale and arrested
two men. The same month, it shut down a second station in Jacksonville. In all,
FDLE has investigated six cases of radio interference, Patterson-Hughes said.
Those caught violating the state law face third-degree felony charges, up to
five years in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Bergen said in the past decade, the FAA has investigated at least 30 instances
in South Florida alone where radio stations interfered with pilot
"Obviously, this is an issue we're addressing," she said. "But it's not
uncommon for this thing to occur."
Staff Writer Thomas Monnay contributed to this report.
Ken Kaye can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-385-7911.
Copyright © 2006, South Florida Sun-Sentinel