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Russia Jamming Commercial Airlines Flights GPS Systems

by joeheg

Airlines have avoided the active war zone over Ukraine since Russian troops entered the country earlier this year. In addition, most airlines have been excluded from Russian airspace, resulting in their having to come up with different routes to get to their destinations.

Flying an aircraft is challenging enough without your instruments failing.  Pilots don’t expect to have instruments fail when flying in peaceful airspace but that’s what’s been happening in Norway’s northern regions.

Since March, airline pilots have been reporting problems with their GPS navigation systems being jammed.

Airline pilots have reported disruptions in regions around the Black Sea, eastern Finland and the Kaliningrad enclave, said Benoit Roturier, head of satellite navigation at France’s civil aviation authority DGAC. The interference appears to be caused by Russian trucks carrying jamming equipment typically used to protect troops and installations against GPS-guided missiles, he said.

The problems seem to be worsening in the Finnmark region, with pilots repeatedly having issues flying to Kirkenes Airport (KKN).

The airport is 55 km from the Pechenga valley, a training ground for several divisions of Russian troops.

Kirkenes Airport has service to Oslo from Scandanavian Airlines and Norwegian Air Shuttle, and Widrøe serves several airports in the region. Pilots have noticed significantly more activity in jamming GPS in the area.

Norwegian military officials have on several occasions previously pointed to the Pechenga area as the origin of electronic warfare units sending jamming signals in a western direction aimed at interfering with Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS).

Now, the jamming from Russia is more frequent than ever before, Norwegian Aviation Authorities told newspaper Dagbladet on Saturday.

While pilots have backup systems to help takeoff and landing, it’s still worrisome that Russia’s military is knowingly jamming GPS systems used by commercial air traffic. However, this is nothing new for the area, as the Russian military tried to jam GPS signals during NATO military exercises in 2018.

While these activities seem shocking to those in the west, Nordic officials seem less phased by the situation, taking it as par for the course when you share a border with Russia.

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