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What’s New: Jamming and spoofing being covered by the New York Times. This important topic is getting broader attention.

  • A particularly good point raised in the article is that the GPS tech used in commercial aviation is from decades ago when threats and interference was not nearly as pervasive.

Why It’s Important: While much, if not all, of the information provided is probably not new to our regular readers, it is a good summary and review.

What Else to Know:

  • We take a issue with the article’s statement “The radio interference has so far not proven to be dangerous. It is dangerous. For example aircraft have almost been spoofed into Iranian airspace near missile bases. So it is dangerous. It just hasn’t resulted in any accidents…yet.
  • We also wonder about the statement “Airplanes can typically fly safely without satellite signals…” It is true, they can, but do they always? And is it as true for smaller aircraft? (The answer to that is “no.”)
  • Changes in commercial airliner equipment come slowly because of the regulatory approval process and expense. It is a good example of how “the installed base” hampers improvements. It is used by some to claim improvements/changes are too expensive and difficult, and therefore should not be undertaken. Yet, if you never start, you never get there, and things will just get worse.

Electronic Warfare Confounds Civilian Pilots, Far From Any Battlefield

Planes were built to trust GPS signals. Jamming and spoofing in the Middle East and Ukraine have diverted flights and caused inaccurate onboard alerts.

Electronic warfare in the Middle East and Ukraine is affecting air travel far from the battlefields, unnerving pilots and exposing an unintended consequence of a tactic that experts say will become more common.

Planes are losing satellite signals, flights have been diverted and pilots have received false location reports or inaccurate warnings that they were flying close to terrain, according to European Union safety regulators and an internal airline memo viewed by The New York Times. The Federal Aviation Administration has also warned pilots about GPS jamming in the Middle East.

Radio frequency interference — intended to disrupt the satellite signals used by rockets, drones and other weaponry — spiked after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in early 2022 and has grown even more intense this fall in the Middle East. The interference can involve jamming satellite signals by drowning them out with noise, or spoofing them — mimicking real satellite signals to trick recipients with misleading information.