A high- flying private helicopter pilot on his way to Lytham St Annes has been fined £1,600 plus £870 in costs after subjecting a Blackpool Airport air traffic controller to a mid-air confrontation whilst attempting to land.
Businessman Joel Tobias, 52, was flying his family to Lytham St. Annes for a day out in his EC120 Colibri Chopper when he demanded to be able to land at Blackpool Airport.
Mr Tobias, from Whitefield, Greater Manchester, threatened to report air traffic controller Andrea Tolley when she asked him to wait. Miss Tolley was already dealing with other aircraft and was also helping guide a lost pilot when Mr Tobias contacted her. Miss Tolley said a colleague had to relieve her of duty following the radio row as she was so upset and, as a further consequence, she barely slept that evening. Miss Tolley said, ”I had never experienced anything like this in my entire career.”
The cyber security businessman pleaded guilty at Manchester Magistrates Court to an offence under the Air Navigation Order 2016, namely flying within an aerodrome traffic zone without having obtained information to enable safe flight. He was fined £1,600 and also ordered to pay £870 in costs and surcharges.
Alison Slater, prosecuting for the CAA said: ””Mr Tobias did not give his location, altitude, destination or request permission to enter the aerodrome traffic zone. Potentially it caused a serious risk to other air traffic in the area.”
Mr Tobias has been brought down to earth with a bump not only with a hefty fine and costs, but also having his licence provisionally suspended. He will now be subject to a regulatory interview by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to see if it will be reinstated. Sadly on the day in question Mr Tobias was seen heading off in his chopper towards Southport, and therefore did not enjoy his planned family day out in lovely Lytham St Annes!