Airlines report Russian GPS jamming in four regions
According to a new report citing a French aviation official, the Russian military is jamming airline satellite navigation near the Black Sea, eastern Finland and Kaliningrad, a small Russian province along the Baltic Sea located between Lithuania and Poland.
The disruption to satellite navigation is caused by Russian trucks equipped with jamming equipment intended to defend Russian troops against GPS-guided munitions, Benoit Roturier, head of satellite navigation at France’s DGAC, told Bloomberg.
“I don’t think the objective is to block civil aviation at this stage,” he said. “It’s collateral damage.”
In addition to Kaliningrad, eastern Finland and the Black Sea, GPS disturbances have also been reported in the eastern Mediterranean near Cyprus, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Israel and northern Iraq, according to the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
On March 17, EASA issued a security advisory warning pilots that spoofing and/or jamming had intensified in all four geographies due to the invasion of the Ukraine by Russia.
“The effects of [Global Navigation Satellite System] GNSS interference and/or possible spoofing has been observed by aircraft at different phases of their flights, in some cases resulting in re-routing or even a change of destination due to the impossibility of carrying out a clearance procedure. ‘safe landing,’ EASA said in a safety newsletter.
“Under current conditions, it is not possible to predict GNSS outages and their effects. The extent of the problems generated by such a failure would depend on the extent of the area concerned, the duration and the phase of flight of the aircraft concerned.
Some of the potential issues that have occurred due to jamming include:
- Loss of ability to use GNSS for waypoint navigation
- Loss of area navigation (RNAV) approach capability
- Inability to conduct or maintain required navigation performance (RNP) operations, including RNP and RNP approaches (clearance required)
- Triggering terrain warnings, possibly with traction controls
- Inconsistent aircraft position on navigation screen;
- Loss of Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B), wind shear, terrain and surface functionality
- Failure or degradation of air traffic management (ATM), air navigation services (ANS) and communication, navigation and surveillance (CNS) systems and aircraft that use GNSS as a time reference
- Potential airspace violations and/or route deviations due to GNSS degradation.
Last month, Finland’s transport and communications agency Traficom warned pilots of GPS signal interference along Finland’s eastern border with Russia.
The transportation agency said at the time that it did not know what was causing the interference, which is difficult to detect in the field or verify due to the relatively short duration of the interference.
Fintraffic Air Navigation Services Ltd. issued a Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) advising pilots of the problem and directing them to use traditional approach systems that do not require a GPS signal to complete the final approach. Airlines have also been asked to make their own decisions on whether or not to fly into the region.
Although the jamming can be a distraction for pilots, airlines have procedures in place in case GPS signals are lost. The ability to cope with such a disturbance may, however, vary depending on the size of the aircraft. While some aircraft are capable of using the Inertial Reference System (IRS) to fix the aircraft’s position as a workaround for GPS, this is an uncommon system on small aircraft, according to Mentourpilot. .com.
The jamming is a red flag, Roturier told Bloomberg.
“All of Europe must prepare contingency plans in case these satellite systems are lost,” Roturier said. “For some countries closer to the front, which may be less advanced in putting contingency plans in place, the current situation has served to highlight the need.”