Finnish Passenger Jets Forced to Turn Around After Navigation Hit by 'Extremely' Dangerous Russian GPS Jamming

By Madz Dizon

Apr 30, 2024 12:43 AM EDT

Finnish Passenger Jets Forced to Turn Around After Navigation Hit by 'Extremely' Dangerous Russian GPS Jamming
An Embraer 190 commercial plane with registration OH-LKI of nordic carrier Finnair is seen landing above a plane of low-cost carrier Easyjet at Geneva Airport on March 11, 2019 in Geneva.
(Photo : FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)

Russia is threatening an air disaster by continuing GPS jamming, which forced two passenger jets to turn back last week, Baltic officials have warned.

Two Finnair aircraft from Helsinki to Tartu, Estonia, were forced to turn around and return to Finland on Thursday and Friday after reportedly failing to navigate safely.

Finnair Suspends Flights Over GPS Interference

These are only a few of the tens of thousands of commercial aircraft that experts believe have been disrupted by GPS jamming in recent months.

It comes just a week after flight data identified jamming hotspots in the Baltic region, Black Sea, and eastern Mediterranean, according to The Sun

In January, the European Aviation Safety Agency warned that jamming and spoofing attacks had increased significantly. They did not specify who was behind it, but Russia has been largely suspected.

Margus Tsahkna, Estonia's foreign minister, called it as "part of Russia's hostile activities," adding that "such actions are a hybrid attack and a threat to our people and security, and we will not tolerate it."

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Growing Threats of Dangerous GPS Jamming

"If someone turns off your headlights while you're driving at night, it gets dangerous," Gabrielius Landsbergis, Lithuania's foreign minister, told the FT.

Air traffic trackers show a Finnair twin-engine turboprop circling above Estonia before being forced to return to Helsinki after seemingly failing to arrive at its planned location on two consecutive days.

While most large airports have capabilities to allow planes to land without GPS, Tartu, Estonia's second-largest city after Tallinn, appears to require the guidance signal.

Aviation experts have warned that the likelihood of an air mishap is growing as attacks against GPS signals continue. According to experts, the number of suspected Russian satnav attacks increased to more than 350 each week last month, up from fewer than 50 per week the previous year. 

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