What’s New: Several sites, including the FAA, are reporting GPS signal spoofing impacting aircraft in Iraq and other nations in the region. One aircraft nearly entered Iranian airspace without permission in a sensitive border area with two missile bases.
Why It’s Important:
- Best case is a diplomatic incident. Worst case the aircraft gets shot down.
- Multiple systems in aircraft use GPS and are impacted/inoperable when it is spoofed or denied.
- FAA and some others like to say GPS isn’t absolutely necessary for safe flight.
- See the report of the aircraft that had to get vectors all the way to its destination.
- So, not necessary for safe flight of one aircraft, how about the safe operation of many aircraft or the aviation system?
What Else to Know:
- Governments, international bodies, associations, and operators have all known about GPS vulnerability to jamming and spoofing for years. Warnings are regularly issued, but as far as we can tell, little has been done to mitigate the problem.
- Sometimes weak jamming can act like spoofing. Can occur when the receiver is distant from the interfering source. We wonder if that is what is happening as it is hard to imagine a motive for intentionally spoofing these aircraft.. It is not really possible to differentiate between weak jamming that looks like spoofing and intentional spoofing without sophisticated equipment.
By OPSGROUP Team
Since publishing Monday’s risk warning on complex navigation failures following fake GPS signals, we have received further concerning reports from operators, mirroring the same events. The impact of the nav failures is becoming clearer, with one operator almost entering Iranian airspace without clearance, and another left requiring ATC vectors all the way to their destination in Doha.
In total we now have 20 reports of almost identical situations. Full reports are in Version 2 of our Risk Warning (PDF), see further down.
On Wednesday evening, the FAA issued a warning memo to aircraft operators as a result of the situation, warning of increased “safety of flight risk to civil aviation operations”.
Embraer Legacy 650: We nearly entered Iran airspace with no clearance
One of the new reports received since Monday was from an Embraer 650 crew enroute from Europe to Dubai. They tell us, “In Baghdad airspace, we lost both GPS in the aircraft and on both iPads. Further, the IRS didn’t work anymore. We only realized there was an issue because the autopilot started turning to the left and right, so it it was obvious that something was wrong. After couple of minutes we got error messages on our FMS regarding GPS, etc. So we had to request radar vectors. We were showing about 80 nm off track. During the event, we nearly entered Iran airspace (OIIX/Tehran FIR) with no clearance.