No, There’s No ‘Ghost In The Machine’ On Board American Airlines Aircraft

Earlier in the week there were reports of P.A. systems on board American Airlines aircraft taking on a life of their own – or at least being ‘hacked’. These were highlighted by aviation insider JonNYC.

"Currently on AA1631 and someone keeps hacking into the PA and making moaning and screaming sounds 😨 the flight attendants are standing by their phones because it isn’t them and the captain just came on and told us they don’t think the flight systems are compromised so we will..

— 🇺🇦 JonNYC 🇺🇦 (@xJonNYC) September 18, 2022

He reported that on this flight one person at least suggested that it “sounded like a male voice and wouldn’t last more than 5-10 seconds before stopping. And has [intermittently] happened on and off all flight long.”

The initial incident generated some schadenfreude, coming after a flight attendant made the announcement about getting the airline’s Barclays co-brand credit card. I noted that the issue occurred right after the P.A. was used.

.. off. It even happened at the very end of the credit card offer announcement, before she could hang up the phone. She didn’t know what to do since it happened basically when she was onThree supervisors or AA management just went on board before first class couldn’t get even..

— 🇺🇦 JonNYC 🇺🇦 (@xJonNYC) September 19, 2022

This wasn’t the only flight where this was said to have occurred. It’s not clear from social media reports whether this next report is from a different aircraft or if it was the P.A. on the same Boeing 737-800.

The puke yank intercom takeover has continued into the air, and they picked up the pace of the interjections.

— Emerson Collins (@ActuallyEmerson) September 6, 2022

Nonetheless, the hacked or ghost announcements became the subject of much crew scuttlebutt, including on an unrelated Airbus A321.

— 🇺🇦 JonNYC 🇺🇦 (@xJonNYC) September 20, 2022

Lucky at One Mile at a Time proceeds with the assumption that these are different aircraft involved, and that the explanation has to be hacking of the PA system, a haunted plane, or a “very strange tech glitch” and finds hacking “the most likely.”

[I]t’s absolutely terrifying to think that it would be possible to hack the intercom system on a plane from the ground, so I’d love to hear some other theories.

To be clear, the P.A. system is wired – it is not wifi or bluetooth-enabled. My first reaction when I saw this was, that’s simply not possible, right? It does not seem to be.

American Airlines inspected the Boeing 737-800 as well as the P.A. system itself after these reports. They tell me that maintenance “determined the sounds were caused by an issue with the PA amplifier. There was no external access to the system.” A malfunctioning P.A., along with other non-critical electronic systems, on an A321 would not surprise me either.

The Ghost in the Machine may be on the verge of coming to fruition but not inside of American Airlines P.A. systems.

On the other hand, American Airlines did confirm one of its planes made contact with a UFO over New Mexico last year.

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