Revealed: The number of people caught illegally using phones on flights

Transport Minister Phil Twyford was just one of six people fined for using a cell phone on a plane when they weren't supposed to in the past year.

Documents released to Newshub show 22 people breached civil aviation rules - but only six of them were fined $500.

The law says portable electronic devices are not to be operated on board unless in flight mode.

In May, Mr Twyford apologised and offered his resignation after using his cellphone on an aircraft to make a call after the doors had closed.

His resignation wasn't accepted, but he was fined $500 and the aviation portfolio was taken off him for three months.

Mr Twyford told Newshub despite the lack of charges under the law a change isn't on the cards, and the numbers show the system is working.

"The rules are there for a good reason. It's important everybody abides by them. I think people are well aware of these rules.

"I broke the rules in my case and I regretted it, and paid the fine."

At the time, director of Civil Aviation Graeme Harris said while Mr Twyford's actions did not pose a significant risk to the flight, he did breach the rule.

There have been 76,424 international flights in the past year.

Five of the $500 fines were issued between December 11, 2017, and March 10, 2018. The other was between May 11, 2018 and June 10, 2018.

'It's just an annoyance'

ACT leader David Seymour told Newshub the law needs to go.

"It's a law that isn't helping anybody, it's just an annoyance and we should have better things to do with our time than police cellphone use on planes.

"I'm a trained electrical engineer - there is no danger from cellphone frequencies affecting the avionics or operation of an aircraft. The rule is antiquated, it goes back to a time when we were afraid about cellphones - today we have airplanes with Wi-Fi.  What's the point in banning people from using cellphones?"

The rule requires "no person may operate, nor may any operator or pilot-in-command allow the operation of, any cellphone or other portable electronic device that is designed to transmit electromagnetic energy, on any aircraft while that aircraft is operating under instrument flight rules".

The Civil Aviation Authority says the intent is to prevent interference with aircraft instruments when the aircraft may be operating without visual references.