Neil Whitehouse, 28, was convicted of Â"recklessly and negligently endangeringÂ" a British Airways flight carrying 91 passengers from Madrid to Manchester after he ignored repeated requests from the crew to switch off his phone.
Â"You had no regard for the alarm that would be caused to passengers by your stubborn and ignorant behavior,Â" Judge Anthony Ensor told Whitehouse at Manchester crown court.
CBS News Correspondent Tom Rivers reports that scientists believe radio emissions from cell phones can affect cockpit controls, including navigation systems.
Ensor said there was no precedent to guide him on sentencing. He said the sentence should serve as an example and added that he would seek legislation to cover cell phone use on airplanes.
Both British Airways and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which looks after the interests of all U.K. carriers, welcomed the landmark ruling as a step in the right direction.
Â"As far as British Airways -- and IÂ'm sure many other airlines -- are concerned, we will continue to ban the use of mobile phones on-board aircraft for all our flights,Â" said airline spokesperson Sue Redmond.
Although Whitehouse made no airborne calls, aviation experts told a three-day trial that radio waves from the phone could have sparked an explosion or affected the Boeing 737's navigational systems as it flew at 31,000 feet.
Whitehouse, who was sitting over the aircraft's wing fuel tanks, said he had just been preparing a text message to send on his arrival in Manchester. Despite warnings from the pilot and crew he kept his phone on.
His lawyer argued that any potential interference to the plane's systems would have been only for a few seconds and could have been corrected.
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