Military blocks GPS signals in Florida during test drills

Military blocks GPS signals in Florida during test drills

Over the next few days, GPS systems may be unreliable or unavailable due to a military test exercise, according to the FAA.

The exercise will require a GPS jammer for periods of several hours during the event.

The FAA says navigation guidance, ADS-B, and other GPS-related services could be affected up to 400 nautical miles at flight level 400, out to a radius of 180 nm at 50 feet above. above ground.

The next dates for the exercise will be as follows:

Saturday January 18, 2020 from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday January 23 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday January 24 from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Pilots are encouraged to report anomalies in accordance with paragraphs 1-1-13 and 5-3-3 of the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM). Reports can be submitted using this online form.

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association reported on a similar event last year and said it was aware of hundreds of reports of interference with aircraft during such events, which 'she considers very concerning.

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AOPA reported that an aircraft lost navigation capability and only regained it after landing and other reports showed drifting off course and heading into military airspace asset.

What does this mean for us?
The good news is that it won't impact the navigation systems in our cars or the maps we use on our phones.

However, pilots taking off and landing commercial airliners at RSW will need to take precautions. But GPS jamming is actually something they train for and are ready to deal with.

Flying an airplane requires training, and that training includes knowing how to fly without GPS.

"In your training to become a pilot, you learn not only GPS navigation, but also radio navigation, which is what we used before GPS," said retired Air Force and Delta pilot Wayne Merrill.

The same goes for everyone in the field. We used to get around in our cars without GPS, but it's more reliable and convenient.

Merrill explained what it looks like for pilots when military exercises require our GPS to be jammed.

"You can always use GPS," he said, "but you have to be aware that it may not be accurate."

These exercises teach pilots to understand exactly that and how to navigate without GPS.

For the military, it's regular and routine. Although all pilots train for it, that doesn't mean they like it.

In a 2019 survey by AOPA, more than 64% of 1,200 pilots said they were worried about interference on their GPS.

"During these events, when an aircraft loses GPS signal, it may lose the ability to navigate on its own, and in some cases continued to fly into restricted areas where it shouldn't be," Rune Duke said. , AOPA's Senior Director of Government Affairs. .

So commercial pilots are familiar with the drill and every major airline we spoke to said they didn't expect any problems.

A pilot advocacy group said it fears ongoing GPS jamming could cause problems for less experienced pilots in the air.