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Thousands of flights to and from Europe affected by suspected Russian jamming

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Flights in and out of Britain are among thousands that have been affected by suspected Russian jamming of GPS systems.

More than 2,300 Ryanair flights have reported incidents of GPS interference since last August, according to a report, as well as almost 1,400 at Wizz Air, 82 at British Airways and four from easyJet.

About 46,000 aircraft in total have logged problems with GPS over the Baltic Sea in the same time period, the Sun reported, based on analysis of flight logs with the website GPSJAM.org. Most of the GPS problems reported on the website have come in eastern Europe, bordering Russia.

The satellite-based GPS forms part of an aircraft’s navigation system, and interference can pose a safety risk.

The UK government confirmed in March that an RAF plane carrying the defence secretary, Grant Shapps, had its GPS signal jammed while flying near the Russian Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, while heading back to the UK from Poland.

Although Downing Street said the move did not threaten the safety of the aircraft, a defence source described it as “wildly irresponsible”.

The International Air Transport Association and the EU Aviation Safety Agency (Easa) held a summit in January to discuss GPS jamming and “spoofing”, or sending bogus signals, with Easa reporting a sharp rise in the number of attacks.

While Easa said countering the threat was a priority, the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority played down the risk and said jamming was often associated with military activity but did not mean commercial planes were being directly targeted.

Glenn Bradley, the head of flight operations at the CAA, said: “Aviation is one of the safest forms of air travel and there are several safety protocols in place to protect navigation systems on commercial aircraft.

“GPS jamming does not directly impact the navigation of an aircraft, and while it is a known issue, this does not mean an aircraft has been jammed deliberately.”

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A Ryanair spokesperson said: “In recent years there has been a rise in intermittent GPS interference which has affected all airlines. Ryanair aircraft have multiple systems to identify aircraft location, including GPS. If any of the location systems, such as GPS, are not functioning then the crew, as part of standard operating procedures, switch to one of the alternate systems.”

An easyJet spokesperson said there were “multiple navigation systems onboard commercial aircraft as well as procedures in place which mitigate against issues with GPS that can occur for various reasons”.

BA was approached for comment.

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