The Impact of GPS Spoofing on Commercial Aviation – Airways | Airlines

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DALLAS — In recent weeks, GPS spoofing in the Iraq-Iran area caused aircraft navigational system failures, leading to a near-incident where a business jet almost entered Iranian airspace without clearance.

Flight data intelligence website OPSGROUP, comprised of 8,000 members, including pilots and controllers, has been reporting these incidents since the end of September 2023, according to a Forbes report.

GPS spoofing in the Middle East and Eastern Europe has resulted in up to 80 nm deviation from the flight path, and aircraft affected have had to rely on radar vectors from ATC. The recent incidents involving spoofing are indicative of an active attack on an aircraft’s total navigation system. Current Inertia Reference Systems (IRS) are not designed to counter this type of attack.

IRS use gyroscopes, accelerometers, and electronics to provide precise attitude, velocity, and navigation information so an aircraft can determine how it is moving through the airspace. GPS spoofing events make the IRS unusable, and, in many cases, all navigation capability is lost.

Needless to say, GPS spoofing can cause significant disruptions to commercial aviation, including impacts on on-time arrivals and departures, let alone passenger safety.

Photo: Qatar Airways

How Does GPS Spoofing/Jamming Work?

GPS spoofing involves overriding legitimate GPS satellite signals to deceive receiver antennae and manipulate their navigation systems, in effect overriding legitimate GPS satellite signals. This can lead to incorrect positioning information, potentially causing aircraft to deviate from their intended routes or experience navigational failures. Strategically, spoofing can indicate that an aircraft is somewhere it is not, leading to a complete loss of navigational capability.

On the other hand, GPS jamming involves emitting radio signals at the same frequency as GPS signals, overpowering and disrupting the GPS receiver’s ability to accurately…

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