New Delhi: India's Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has issued a crucial advisory to all Indian airlines in response to growing concerns about civilian aircraft flying without proper navigation in parts of the Middle East. The advisory comes in light of recent reports highlighting instances of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) jamming and spoofing, posing significant safety hazards. The aviation industry is grappling with uncertainties arising from new threats.
The advisory specifically addresses the increasing incidents of GNSS interference in Middle Eastern airspace, urging the development of contingency measures to combat navigation system jamming. The DGCA recommends establishing a threat monitoring and analysis network to address this emerging issue. In late September, multiple commercial flights near Iran experienced navigation system failures, deviating from their intended routes due to spoofed GPS signals.
Spoofing occurs when aircraft receive deceptive GPS signals, misleading their in-built systems and causing them to believe they are miles away from their actual routes. The strength of these signals compromises the integrity of the aircraft’s systems, leading to instability in the inertial reference system and complete loss of navigation capability within minutes.
Areas of concern primarily include a busy airway in Northern Iraq and Azerbaijan, with multiple incidents reported near Erbil. By September, 12 separate incidents had been documented, the most recent near Ankara, Turkey, on November 20. Although no specific culprit has been identified, it is suspected that military electronic warfare systems deployed in regions of regional tension may be responsible for the jamming and spoofing.
The DGCA circular incorporates recommendations from a committee addressing the emerging threat, aligning with best practices and International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) guidance. It outlines comprehensive mitigation measures and action plans for various stakeholders, including aircraft operators, pilots, air navigation service providers (ANSP), and air traffic controllers.
These measures involve developing contingency procedures in coordination with equipment manufacturers and conducting safety risk assessments to assess operational risks. The circular also proposes the establishment of a threat monitoring and analysis network in collaboration with the DGCA for proactive and reactive monitoring, generating valuable insights for robust and immediate threat response.