GNSS satellite system haywire in the skies near Ukraine: flight safety at risk

The ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine is creating serious problems for the global satellite navigation system (GNSS). It is the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) that has raised the alarm in the latest Safety Information Bulletin, warning all those involved, including airlines, of the increase in risks.

In the current context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the problem of jamming and / or possible spoofing of global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) has intensified in the geographical areas surrounding the conflict zone and in other areas.

From February 24 [giorno dell’inizio della guerra, ndr] Four geographic areas are reported where spoofing and / or jamming has been intensified:

  • Kaliningrad region, around the Baltic Sea and neighboring states
  • east of Finland
  • Black Sea
  • Eastern Mediterranean area near Cyprus, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria and Israel, as well as northern Iraq

Spoofing: cyber attack through falsification of the technological identity. Jamming: Voluntary disturbance of radio communications by decreasing the signal-to-noise ratio so that the signal itself is not clear.


Malfunctions and interference have been recorded on more than one occasion by aircraft flying into those areas at different stages of the flight. In some cases the pilots were forced to reschedule the route or to change the final destination, as the conditions for a safe landing had failed.

In practice, the reduction (degradation) of the GNSS signal can involve various risks, including the inability to rely on the satellite system for maneuvers and to correctly view the aircraft on the navigation display. GNSS-based aviation systems failures as well as airspace violations due to incorrectly received signal are also possible.

Maximum alert, therefore, and the European Union invites all parties involved – National Aviation Authorities, Air Navigation Service Providers and airlines – to adopt safety procedures, especially if the flight route takes place near these areas. As soon as a loss of GNSS signal occurs, for example, pilots are required to notify the flight controllers immediately. Crews must also keep constantly monitored all systems based on the global navigation satellite system, and each flight must provide for the possibility of an alternative landing procedure.

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