MUMBAI: Pilots of Indian carriers will soon have their airlines’ ‘standard operating procedures’ to fall back on when faced with satellite signal jamming or spoofing, problems that could affect an aircraft’s navigation systems. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Friday issued an advisory to pilots, airlines and air traffic control officials on handling Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) signal interference.
Among other measures, airlines have been asked to report actual or suspected cases of GNSS interference to the regulator, prepare SOPs for pilots on how to handle the situation, include the topic in pilots’ recurrent training, and most importantly, conduct a safety risk assessment to learn of the risks and hazards that may occur due to loss of on-board GNSS-based navigation systems.

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In the past few months, airline and charter jets flying near conflict zones in the Middle East and parts of central Europe have been increasingly reporting navigation problems caused due to spoofing or jamming of GNSS signals. Air India and IndiGo operate flights over some of these regions. “The SOPs will have to be region-specific, as the procedures to handle an aircraft navigation system failure due to GPS spoofing when overflying say, Russia, would be different from the procedures to follow when flying over, say, Iran or Estonia or Turkey,” said a senior pilot. “An SOP would decrease the pilots’ workload that comes with GPS spoofing and navigation failure. A pilot will be better prepared to handle such eventualities.”
On October 1, TOI reported on the problems faced by pilots after their aircraft became targets of GNSS/GPS spoofing, particularly over Iran airspace. On October 4, the DGCA announced a committee for monitoring GNSS spoofing in Indian airspace. The DGCA advisory is based on recommendations given by the committee. Early this month, Europe’s civil aviation regulator had updated its safety bulletin to address the problem.“With increased reliance and dependency on GNSS, its interference including jamming and spoofing has become a real threat in airspace,” said the advisory, issued by Vikram Dev Dutt, director general of civil aviation.
It states that airlines should understand the potential impact of GNSS interference on their aircraft fleet, and they should coordinate with aircraft manufacturers to obtain their recommendations. Airlines have been asked to develop contingency procedures to mitigate GNSS interference on aircraft, remain updated by studying various circulars issued by different aviation authorities and provide timely briefing to pilots on the latest information on GNSS interference, such as affected areas and air routes, potential impact and reporting obligations. The advisory has also asked the Airports Authority of India,to carry out a risk assessment and prepare an SOP.
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