A radio broadcaster was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly interfering with communications between pilots and air traffic controllers at Chiang Mai airport.
Officials from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) Region 9 arrested Withaya Methawo, 52, who operates a community radio station in tambon Khua Mung of Chiang Mai's Saraphi district.
They seized his transmitter and took him to Saraphi police station for questioning.
NBTC regional office director Nares Phachanaphan said Aeronautical Radio of Thailand Co (Aerothai) had complained Mr Withaya's broadcasting on the 92.25MHz frequency was interfering with flight communications.
The NBTC had issued three warnings to Mr Withaya but they had not been heeded, Mr Nares said.
The arrest was necessary to ensure flight safety. The regional office has warned other community radio broadcasters to ensure their transmissions do not interfere with aviation communications, he said.
In a seminar on the issue in Bangkok yesterday, Aerothai president Prajak Sajjasophon called for more serious efforts to eradicate interference by community radio stations.
He said pilots reported 1,781 serious interference incidents countrywide last year and 2,275 such incidents from January to August this year.
The problem mainly affects air traffic control at Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports, he said.
The interference often forces traffic control officers and pilots to repeat their messages. The repetition increases their workloads and raises the risk of miscommunication and accidents, Mr Prajak said.
He said fixing the problem was difficult because there were only a small number of broadcasting control offices.
He noted it was difficult to pinpoint radio signal interference from high altitude.
Mr Prajak said hoped the problem could be solved when the NBTC migrates radio stations to digital broadcasting.
He said there were more than 8,000 community radio stations nationwide.
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Writer: Cheewin Sattha and Amornrat Mahitthirook