To support its armed offensive in Ukraine, the Russian army also set up, from the start of the invasion, on February 24, a jamming of GPS signals. The objective would be to protect themselves from possible missile fire from Ukrainian troops but also to disrupt the adversary’s communications. However, this system has the collateral effect of disrupting the navigation of planes passing close to the conflict zone.
This is why, on 17 March, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued a safety information bulletin informing airlines of the risks incurred by their planes flying near borders of Ukraine. The agency pointed to four areas where GPS signal jamming occurs: the first encompasses the Kaliningrad region, the Baltic Sea and the states bordering it; the second concerns Eastern Finland; the third targets the Black Sea; and the fourth includes the eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Israel and Iraq.
For the pilots, this jamming is not new nor, it seems, a real source of concern. “It can’t cause a plane to crash”, thus relativizes Véronique Damon, co-pilot of Air France on long-haul Boeing 777. In the absence of GPS, the pilots refer without problem to the inertial unit. A very tried and tested system still in common use some forty years ago before the entry into service of satellite navigation. “Until the 1980s, planes only worked with this”, explains the Air France long-haul flight attendant. According to her, the advantage with the inertial unit is that we “can’t blur it but it’s less accurate after a few hours of use”. Indeed, if “GPS accuracy is of the order of a few tens of meters”indicates the sailor, that of “the inertial unit is a few hundred meters”.
To deal with this interference, Air France did not tell its pilots “specific procedures”signals Mme Damon. However, the company has released “different recommendations”, says Philippe Lacroute, spokesperson for the airline’s flight operations. Especially when approaching landing, in regions around Ukraine, Air France pilots should not use GPS. She advises them to take an instrument approach, that is to say radio guidance, or even a visual landing, as pilots regularly do.
You have 41.89% of this article left to read. The following is for subscribers only.