Russia Reportedly Jammed GPS of Over 46,000 Aircraft, Disrupting Flights to and From Europe

By Thea Felicity

Apr 22, 2024 11:20 AM EDT

People look at Rafale fighter jets flying over the Arc de Triomphe during a rehearsal, three days ahead of the Bastille Day parade on the Champs-Elysees avenue, on July 11, 2023 in Paris.
(Photo : JULIEN DE ROSA/AFP via Getty Images)
Suspected Russian jamming of GPS systems has disrupted thousands of flights to and from Europe, affecting over 46,000 aircraft over the Baltic Sea since August, according to The Guardian. 

The interference, reported by airlines like Ryanair, Wizz Air, British Airways, and easyJet, poses safety concerns as GPS forms a crucial part of aircraft navigation. The UK government confirmed a GPS signal jamming incident involving an RAF plane near Kaliningrad in March, prompting discussions on countering such threats between aviation authorities.

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Why Russia Employed GPS Jamming Systems

While the precise intent behind these disruptions remains unclear, the incident has raised concerns about the potential risks associated with such actions. 

The International Air Transport Association and the EU Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) convened a summit in January to discuss GPS jamming and "spoofing," where false signals are sent to deceive GPS receivers. EASA reported a significant uptick in the number of these attacks, indicating a growing concern within the aviation industry.

In response, Glenn Bradley, the head of flight operations at the UK's Civil Aviation Authority, sought to reassure the public. "Aviation is one of the safest forms of air travel, and there are several safety protocols in place to protect navigation systems on commercial aircraft." 

He also noted that while GPS jamming is a known issue, it does not necessarily mean that aircraft are being deliberately targeted.

Despite this reassurance, airlines continue to implement contingency measures to ensure the safety and efficiency of their operations in the face of these disruptions.

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