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Russia accused of GPS jamming after aircraft disrupted

April 30, 2024

Finnair suspended flights to the Estonian city of Tartu after GPS signal interference prevented two planes from landing. Estonia and Lithuania have blamed Russia for jamming GPS signals in the region.

Tartu Airport in Estonia
Two Finnair planes were unable to land at Tartu in Estonia due to GPS interferenceImage: Margus Ansu/Scanpix/IMAGO

Estonia and Lithuania have accused Russia of jamming GPS signals in the Baltic region.

"GPS interference in Estonian airspace by RF (the Russian Federation) has affected civil aviation in our region. In doing so Russia violates international regulations," Estonian Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna said on social media.

Speaking to Estonian radio, Tsahkna claimed this was "a completely deliberate act" by Moscow.

On Tuesday, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis also reported an uptick in Russian GPS interference.

"This is part of Russia's hostile activities, which have been carried out before, but now their intensification is being observed," Landsbergis said.

Russia has not commented on the allegations.

Finnair flights suspended

The comments come after Finnish airline Finnair suspended services to the Estonian city of Tartu on Monday.

It said ongoing GPS disturbances had prevented two aircraft from landing.

"Finnair will suspend its daily flights to Tartu, Estonia, from April 29 to May 31, so that an alternative approach solution that does not require a GPS signal can be put in place at Tartu Airport," Finnair said in a statement.

The airline said it did not know the cause of the GPS interference but mentioned an increase in incidents since 2022, especially near Russia's Kaliningrad exclave, the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean.

"Typically, GPS interference does not affect flight routes or flight safety, as pilots are well aware of it and aircraft have alternative systems in place that are used when the GPS signal is interfered with," Finnair added.

How drones became critical for Ukraine in war with Russia

Estonia's Consumer Protection and Technical Regulation Authority deployed specialists to Tartu to investigate the reports of GPS interference at the airport.

A spokesperson said on Tuesday that no signal interference had been detected on the ground, but rather it began at an altitude of around 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles) into the airspace.

They said this could be a "side effect" of Russia's attempts to jam the GPS signals of Ukrainian drones.

zc/nm (Reuters, dpa)