EASA and IATA Unite to Tackle Growing Threat of GNSS Spoofing and Jamming in Aviation

By Ivan PetrenkoJan 28, 2024 02:02 AMNews
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A person writing on a clear board with a marker, with various words and diagrams visible in the background
A person writing on a clear board with a marker, with various words and diagrams visible in the background. Source: unsplash

In a proactive response to the escalating threat of GNSS spoofing and jamming, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have concluded a critical workshop at EASA’s headquarters. This collaborative event focused on counteracting incidents that compromise the integrity of satellite-based navigation and positioning systems crucial for aviation safety.

The workshop underscored the significant safety challenges posed by interference with GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) services. These systems are pivotal in providing accurate positional information for aircraft, ensuring safe operations in increasingly crowded skies. The rise in GNSS spoofing and jamming incidents necessitates immediate and strategic actions across various timeframes. Initially, the emphasis is on sharing incident data and effective remedies.

Luc Tytgat, EASA’s Acting Executive Director, highlighted the importance of GNSS systems in enhancing aviation safety. However, he also acknowledged the growing attacks on these systems, presenting a new safety risk. "Immediate measures are required to equip pilots and crews to identify and safely react to these risks. In the medium term, adjustments in navigation and landing system certification are needed. For the long term, involvement in future satellite navigation systems' design is essential," said Tytgat.

Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General, echoed these concerns. He emphasized the need for coordinated efforts in collecting and sharing GNSS safety data, guidance from aircraft manufacturers, and a commitment to maintaining traditional navigation systems as backups. Walsh stressed that airlines, being at the forefront of this risk, should be central to any solution.

Key resolutions from the workshop include establishing robust reporting and sharing mechanisms for GNSS interference events, developing guidance for aircraft operators to manage jamming and spoofing, and ensuring the aviation sector retains traditional navigation aids as backups. This comprehensive approach is expected to enhance the resilience of Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) services provided by GNSS.

The workshop also delved into the specifics of ‘spoofing’ and ‘jamming.’ These increasingly common incidents, especially in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, undermine the reliability of GNSS services like GPS and the EU’s Galileo. The difference between the two is crucial: jamming blocks signals, while spoofing feeds false data to receivers.

These disruptions are not just aviation concerns but affect a range of industries reliant on precise geolocation services. As a part of cybersecurity, EASA has developed a toolkit to address this safety threat, with National Aviation Authorities in Europe explicitly tasking EASA with countering this risk.

The workshop, held in Cologne on January 25, 2024, brought together over 120 participants from diverse sectors, including airlines, manufacturers, and system suppliers. The collective understanding and determination to address this emerging threat were palpable among the attendees, underscoring the urgency and importance of this issue in the aviation sector.

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