British Flights Face “Extremely Dangerous Russian Jamming”: Report

British Airways, Ryanair and EasyJet are among the airlines that are hit.

Thousands of flights in the UK have been hit by “extremely dangerous” jamming, suspected to have been carried out by Russia, according to a report in The Sun. The electronic attacks have impacted satellite navigation (satnav) leaving aircraft routes difficult to navigate. Pilots too struggle to tell the colleagues where in the air they are, the outlet further said. Sometimes the situation becomes so bizarre that planes had to swerve and dive to avoid “obstacles” that were really not there.

The Sun said that till the end of March, 2,309 Ryanair flights and 1,368 Wizz Air planes logged satnav problems in the Baltic region.

British Airways, Jet2 and EasyJet flights were also hit.

Jamming interrupts the satellite signals, including GPS, from reaching the aircraft and tricks the pilots into thinking they are somewhere they are not.

“We have seen a sharp rise in attacks on these systems, which poses a safety risk,” Luc Tytgat, boss of EASA, told The Sun.

The outlet claimed that suspected Russian attacks have increased from fewer than 50 a week last year to more than 350 a week last month.

Ryanair said: “If any location systems, such as GPS, are not functioning then the crew switch to alternate systems.”

EasyJet said it had procedures to mitigate against GPS issues.

However, Glenn Bradley, from the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said that flying is still the safest forms of travel.

“GPS jamming does not directly impact the navigation of an aircraft and while it’s a known issue, this does not mean an aircraft has been jammed deliberately,” he said in a statement.

“While operators have mitigations in place to assure continued safe operations, we work closely with other aviation regulators, airlines and aircraft manufacturers to curb and mitigate any risks posed by jamming and continuously monitor incidents worldwide,” the statement further said.

Last month, Russia is believed to have jammed the satellite signal on an aircraft used by British defence minister Grant Shapps to travel from Poland back to Britain.

Quoting a government source and journalists, news agency Reuters reported that the GPS signal was interfered with for about 30 minutes while the plane flew close to Russia’s Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad.

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