EASA Warns Of Navigation Jamming Around Ukraine

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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is resulting in the jamming of satellite navigation systems that could affect civil aviation in the surrounding region, EASA has warned. 

In a March 17 Safety Information Bulletin aimed at national aviation authorities, air navigation service providers (ANSPs) and aircraft operators, EASA warned of the increased probability of problems with Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) in the current context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

“GNSS jamming and/or possible spoofing has intensified in geographical areas surrounding the conflict zone and other areas,” EASA said. This has already resulted in some flights having to re-route because of the unavailability of GNSS. 

EASA said that since Feb. 24, there were four geographical areas “where GNSS spoofing and/or jamming has intensified,” namely the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad region, the surrounding Baltic Sea and neighboring states; eastern Finland; the Black Sea; and the Eastern Mediterranean area near Cyprus, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria and Israel, as well as northern Iraq.  

“The effects of GNSS jamming and/or possible spoofing were observed by aircraft in various phases of their flights, in certain cases leading to re-routing or even [a] change [of] destination due to the inability to perform a safe landing procedure,” EASA said. “Under the present conditions, it is not possible to predict GNSS outages and their effects. The magnitude of the issues generated by such outages would depend upon the extent of the area concerned, on the duration and on the phase of flight of the affected aircraft.”  

The agency listed potential problems that a degradation of GNSS signal could generate, including the loss of ability to use GNSS for waypoint navigation; loss of area navigation approach capability; triggering of terrain warnings, possibly with pull-up commands; and inconsistent aircraft position on navigation displays. 

There could also be potential airspace infringements and/or route deviations due to GNSS degradation.  

EASA said that, at present, the concerns expressed in the SIB were not considered to be an unsafe condition that would warrant Safety Directive action.  

To address the problems, EASA recommended implementation of several mitigating measures. These include national aerospace authorities ensuring that contingency procedures are established in coordination with ANSPs and airspace users, and that essential conventional navigation infrastructure, particularly Instrument Landing Systems, are retained and fully operational; as well as putting in place, as a high priority, appropriate and proactive mitigating measures, including the issuance of NOTAMs, such as describing affected areas and related limitations. 

The national aerospace authorities and ANSPs should also establish a process to collect information on GNSS degradations, and promptly notify related outcomes to airlines and airspace users; confirm ANSPs’ readiness to provide reliable surveillance coverage that is resilient to GNSS interference, such as ground NAV aids for conventional non-satellite based navigation, including distance measuring equipment and very high frequency omnidirectional range; and ensure that ANSPs’ contingency plans should include alternative procedures to be followed in case of large-scale GNSS jamming and/or possible spoofing events.  

EASA also recommended aircraft operators ensure that flight crews promptly report to air traffic control any observed interruption, degradation or anomalous performance of GNSS equipment (jamming and/or possible spoofing) or related avionics.  

Operators also should be prepared to verify the aircraft position by means of conventional navigation aids when flights are operated in proximity of the affected areas, EASA said.

Alan Dron

Based in London, Alan is Europe & Middle East correspondent at Air Transport World.