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Interference with the GPS signal does not pose a threat to the safety of flights

At the end of last year, the GPS signal disturbances observed in the Baltic Sea region did not pose a threat to the flight safety of civil aviation aircraft, nor were they such as to divert the aircraft to a different route.

The State Agency "Civil Aviation Agency" (CAA) examines and analyzes reports on GPS signal disturbances in the airspace of the Republic of Latvia. Although they affect the normal processes of civil aviation, GPS signal disturbances do not pose a threat to the safety of aircraft flights either in transit or flying to and from Latvia.

Compared to 2019, the number of GPS system malfunctions has increased, however, the situation in 2022 and 2023 can be described as equivalent. At the end of 2023 (from September to December), 183 reports of GPS system malfunctions were received from pilots. During the flight, the crew focuses on piloting and navigating the aircraft, and since GPS is not the only navigation tool, the flight is also supported by other navigation equipment located on the ground, such as radio beacons.

Air traffic controllers maintain constant communication with aircraft pilots and as soon as information about GPS signal interference is received, it is also notified to other airspace users through the NOTAM system. If necessary, more active monitoring of the location of aircraft can be carried out, as well as more frequent communication between the aircraft crew and air traffic controllers.

Aircraft are also adapted to GPS signal interference, for example, the Airbus A220-300 aircraft used by airBaltic has multi-level navigation systems that ensure independent and accurate navigation.

GPS spoofing is a malicious attempt to alter the user's global navigation satellite system signals, making their position unreliable. However, GPS can also be disrupted by other conditions, such as the solar coronal discharge, which affects earth-orbiting satellites. At high solar activation, organizations responsible for the safety of civil aviation even expect problems with satellite navigation.

On a daily basis, people can spot these GPS system errors on flight mapping sites such as Flightradar24, where the aircraft's route differs from the actual route.


Additional information:

Aivis Vincevs
State Agency "Civil Aviation Agency"
Manager of operational situations
Tel.: 60001672