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Airway UM688 Iraq: Fake GPS signals causing nav failure over Iraq

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Airway UM688 Iraq: Fake GPS signals causing nav failure over Iraq

Old 1st Oct 2023, 18:45
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Yes, it may not be easy, but
a) has anyone heard of airline operational procedures to fly without GPS, like ´deselect GPS. Announce to ATC ´unable RNP´ the moment this occurs, despite DME updating ?
or
b) For ATC: change affected airspace way from closely spaced RNP values to something that can be flown without GPS. ?

Better to take action than explain things to the ??? party whose airspace was infringed or whatever.
?
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Old 1st Oct 2023, 19:21
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Originally Posted by Klauss
Yes, it may not be easy, but
a) has anyone heard of airline operational procedures to fly without GPS, like ´deselect GPS. Announce to ATC ´unable RNP´ the moment this occurs, despite DME updating ?
?
I can’t speak for all OEMs but that’s not Airbus SOP (yet).
https://safetyfirst.airbus.com/gnss-interference/amp/

Spoofing (false position) has been around for ages , although generally more in “hot” zones rather that an airway used by hundreds of aircraft a day.

There has been jamming (corrupted / no signal) along that airway on the Iraq Türkiye border for years, but clearly for some aircraft something new is afoot in that region


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Old 1st Oct 2023, 19:43
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Originally Posted by compressor stall
I can’t speak for all OEMs but that’s not Airbus SOP (yet).
https://safetyfirst.airbus.com/gnss-interference/amp/
Appreciate the link.
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Old 1st Oct 2023, 20:53
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Originally Posted by Klauss
b) For ATC: change affected airspace way from closely spaced RNP values to something that can be flown without GPS. ?
?
That is a very interesting question .
In my days in the airspace I controlled that would not be possible, if your primary Nav equipment failed , what ever that is, NDB, VOR, or GPS ,we expect you to have a back up , and if not, then we'll give you radar vectors and that's it. We cannot change the routies or the separation standards for that. . In an non radar area , or in ADS-B airspace, I guess that would be an emergency situation and consequently emergency (vertical) separations will apply. ,
But , especially in today's increasing unstable world, and era , maybe there are new procedures that I am unaware of. Will check. Curious too..
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Old 2nd Oct 2023, 07:08
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Thank you, Compressor Stall, for the link. Really interesting, really good description of what happens to the various Airbus.
What I am missing is the description of a procedure that keeps aircraft safe, like
a) avoid areas of know interference and spoofing (simple, but impractical in this day and age, I guess. It´s ubiquituous. Either for real, or for ´GPS on TEST´ ...)
or
b) PRIOR to entry into suspected GPS Jamming / Spoofing areas, perform 1) + 2) + 3) ....

Didn´t see it. Also in view of timing issues reports, the problem seems to go deeper, more than navigation.
So, can the use of GPS even be 100 % disabled ?

Re airspace: might be causing raised eyebrows if that has to be changed due to jamming/spoofing, right ?
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Old 2nd Oct 2023, 19:23
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an update...

A colleague just sent this message tonight:

"got the spoof in UM 866, nav was handled… the side effect later was that the terrain data base was destroyed, so leaving Fl220 to Fl210 over water in Bahrain airspace got terrain PULL UP, and it never stopped… just kept going… terrain ovrd in the end to deal with it, but super annyoing to have that shouting when flying knowing its a spurious one!!"

apparently it could remove a safety-net item that could be a factor on a low vis approach, with a possible altimeter setting error.
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Old 9th Oct 2023, 19:04
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Originally Posted by Klauss
So, can the use of GPS even be 100 % disabled ?
Yes. GPS can be disabled as the US Pentagon has the key .( first degrade the accuracy, then the signal.)
Re airspace: might be causing raised eyebrows if that has to be changed due to jamming/spoofing, right ?
Yes again . As promised I checked with my contacts in both Canada and Australia , the heavy current users if ADS-B for surveillance, and both confirmed there are no specific airspace procedures to mitigate GPS outages .

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Old 9th Oct 2023, 20:28
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Originally Posted by kristofera
From a purely technical perspective, wouldn't retransmission of GPS signals with a high powered transmitter be able to achieve something like this? Low-powered retransmission of GPS signals is sometimes used to improve GPS coverage indoors, but if done with a high power transmitter that drowns out the signal from the satellites to nearby receivers, wouldn't that make other receivers think they are at the location and altitude of the retransmitted signals..?
Originally Posted by atakacs
Short answer yes but you have to "recompute" your output so that the receiver "sees" something (ie multiple satellites with a coherent signals) that will pass validation. Not trivial. I mostly wonder about the cost / benefit of this applied to commercial airliners overflying Iraq.
Perhaps not as difficult as you think. Some receivers (I don't know how many but definitely some I've worked with (*)) appear to have been designed without any thought given to spoofing. So computations with geometrically too incoherent data will still produce solutions on some kind of a best-effort basis. Until such receivers get fixed with firmware updates, one has to be wary.
And even afterwards, because more sophisticated methods will inevitably become accessible to a wider audience, as time marches on.

PS: (*) These were NOT aviation receivers, before anyone asks for names.
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Old 10th Oct 2023, 16:38
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And yet, here in Canada as elsewhere, they are enthusiastically decommissioning NDBs, VOR/DME ect. at an accelerating rate.
Nothing like putting all your eggs in one basket.
“What could possibly go wrong?”

One of the funniest things I ever saw was a complete GPS failure 142 NM offshore in a helicopter. The total helmet fire in the opposite seat was a wonder to behold. Ah nothing like a “Child of the Magenta” when the magic box stops working. He had never flown without GPS and he was supposed to be a Capt. and a Training Capt. to boot.



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Old 10th Oct 2023, 21:31
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Originally Posted by albatross
And yet, here in Canada as elsewhere, they are enthusiastically decommissioning NDBs, VOR/DME ect. at an accelerating rate.
Same bull**** in Europe, the plan of EASA is to replace the ILS cat I with RNAV GNSS procedures only. So ridicolous.
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Old 11th Oct 2023, 06:32
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a possible related hole in the Swiss cheese?

Just saw the promo video for the PT6E-66XT
with the single lever control and self starting electronic systems.

With the economic forces driving the industry's components to less weights, less components to mechanically fail and less opportunities of pilot mistakes...

Are they creating more aircraft, engines and nav systems that will be even more "hackable" or completely disabled via targetted attacks from adversaries?
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Old 11th Oct 2023, 19:02
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Originally Posted by 70 Mustang
.

Are they creating more aircraft, engines and nav systems that will be even more "hackable" or completely disabled via targetted attacks from adversaries?
Again the answer is Yes.
One aircraft manufacturer ( will not say which one ) in order to reduce weight and cost of installing Kms of cables is proposing to link electronic boxes , including flight controls via some kind of Bluetooth connections. I am not sure how this will float with the regulators and will evolve but it seems to be more and more the way to go .
Jamming a frequency or disabling an antenna is very easy and very cheap to do., as Hamas demonstrated last Saturday. ( Dixit the New York Times this morning)
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Old 21st Oct 2023, 06:22
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Fake GPS signals causing nav failure over Iraq

Saw this posted on the gcmap.com homepage:

"Over the past ten or so days, aircraft have been targeted with fake GPS signals, leading to a loss of onboard navigational capability. The majority of these incidents have been along the Iraqi portion of Airway UM688, near the Iranian border. Unlike GPS jamming, which merely causes the loss of GPS and thus reliance on the INS (Inertial Navigation System), the spoofing feeds erroneous data into the system which confuses the INS. (It seems fair to wonder why the INS doesn't detected the mismatch and reject the GPS data.)

Most of the reports have involved failures near Erbil, Sulaimaniyah, Baghdad and involved shifts of about 60 nm"

Apparently all onboard navigation, including the IRS and the UTC clock, are affected and corrupted by the false GPS signal. One aircraft nearly strayed into the Iranian FIR, another needed radar vectors all the way to Dubai. Didn't see anything about this on pprune so figured I should post in case any of you operate in the area
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Old 21st Oct 2023, 08:20
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Originally Posted by mrmalibu
Saw this posted on the gcmap.com homepage:

"Over the past ten or so days, aircraft have been targeted with fake GPS signals, leading to a loss of onboard navigational capability. The majority of these incidents have been along the Iraqi portion of Airway UM688, near the Iranian border. Unlike GPS jamming, which merely causes the loss of GPS and thus reliance on the INS (Inertial Navigation System), the spoofing feeds erroneous data into the system which confuses the INS. (It seems fair to wonder why the INS doesn't detected the mismatch and reject the GPS data.)

Most of the reports have involved failures near Erbil, Sulaimaniyah, Baghdad and involved shifts of about 60 nm"

Apparently all onboard navigation, including the IRS and the UTC clock, are affected and corrupted by the false GPS signal. One aircraft nearly strayed into the Iranian FIR, another needed radar vectors all the way to Dubai. Didn't see anything about this on pprune so figured I should post in case any of you operate in the area

Interesting.

On the small bus you can deselect the GPS and switch the clock to internal. It’s like being back in the 1990s!
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Old 21st Oct 2023, 15:35
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It’s like being back in the 1990s
If things really go down the drain you good folk might have to return to the 50's and those sextant thingies. Some military have returned to the lost art I believe as a just in case. Talk in some quarters of inertial being backed up by Astro as used in the SR-71 being developed for commercial ops.
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Old 21st Oct 2023, 15:52
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Dumb question. Given that most likely the bad actors don’t actually have satellites and, I assume, GPS signals only come from satellites why can’t airplanes only use GPS signals that come from the top of the plane? Ignore GPS signals from the ground.
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Old 21st Oct 2023, 21:28
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Given that most likely the bad actors don’t actually have satellites
The Russians have a lot of them and are the main culprits in North/East Europe, I have no idea when the jamming/spoofing comes from but in theory it could come from other satellites.
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Old 22nd Oct 2023, 08:53
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Originally Posted by IBMJunkman
Dumb question. Given that most likely the bad actors don’t actually have satellites and, I assume, GPS signals only come from satellites why can’t airplanes only use GPS signals that come from the top of the plane? Ignore GPS signals from the ground.
For the same reason your kitchen radio works if you turn it upside-down.
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Old 22nd Oct 2023, 09:17
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An accurate fix requires signals from a number of satellites, that will be spread over a wide angle. Not just one or two directly above. So the GPS receiver needs a wide beamwidth.

To maintain continuous jamming over a defined area by satellite would be a difficult and expensive business. Why bother when jamming from a ground station, even a mobile one, is relatively easy.
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Old 22nd Oct 2023, 09:50
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With a narrow beam antenna one could feed in a gradually increasing change and steer a user any way one wanted.The main defense would be to realize the fake is higher power than expected. Update the ephemeris data and the receiver can become out of sync with the actual constellation and can then follow a broadcast.

A general method for detecting this would be tracking known radio sources, but not many aircraft have direction finders.
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