FBI document reveals probe over claim hacker 'could take control of plane'

FBI investigate hacker claim of taking control of plane. Credit: PA

An FBI search warrant has claimed that an internet security professional told a special agent that he was able to take control of an plane engine from his seat after hacking into its computer system.

The document, outlines the claims of Chris Roberts who is alleged to have posted messages on Twitter during an internal US flight last month saying he had control of the aircraft.

It outlines his alleged claim that he was able to use "special equipment" to hack into the plane's flight systems.

FBI Special Agents said that they "believed Roberts has the ability and willingness to use the equipment to access or attempt to access the IFE [in flight entertainment] and possibly the flight control systems".

The warrant says that on April 15 this year FBI special agents interviewed Roberts at Syracuse Airport after he arrived and was found to have an iPad, a MacBook Pro computer, hard drives and thumb drives.

Mr Roberts has said that he only acted to highlight security weaknesses.

The FBI warrant says he "exploited" the in-flight entertainment systems on various aircraft "15 - 20 times" between 2011 and 2014.

The FBI said Mr Roberts gained physical access to it by connecting his laptop via the Seat Electronic Box under passenger seats.

Mr Roberts suggested he only "sniffed the data traffic" in an interview with Wired magazine.

It is understood that Roberts, founder of One World Labs, is an expert in airline system security issues and has not been detained by the authorities.

Experts in the field have said it is unclear whether Roberts managed to hack the aircraft.