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Why 20 Aircraft Went Off Course Over Iranian Airspace


Power Poster III
Major Contributor
  • Commercial and private jets flying over Iran have been affected by GPS signal spoofing, causing them to veer off course. This is the first time passenger flights have been targeted to such a sophisticated degree.
  • GPS signal spoofing occurs when counterfeit radio signals override legitimate GPS signals, leading to navigation system failures and pilots relying on ATC for help in identifying their exact location.
  • While GPS jamming is more common and easily recognized by pilots, spoofing is harder to detect as the aircraft's GPS receiver accepts the false signals and redirects the plane accordingly. The FAA has issued a warning for flights over Baghdad due to these incidents.
    Over the past two weeks, more than 20 commercial and private jets flying over Iran have strayed off course after being led off route by deceptive GPS signals sent from the ground. These signals overpowered the jet’s navigation systems and affected multiple aircraft, including Boeing 777s, 737s, and 747s.

In response to the incidents, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a NOTAM (Notice to Air Men) for flights flying over Baghdad, Iraq, as these airway routes are considered to be sensitive areas by Iran.

Iran has two large military bases just off the airway route, one in the western city of Kermanshah with dedicated anti-aircraft weapons and another in the central city of Khorramabad. For context, in 2020, Iran mistakenly shot down Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737, killing the nine crew and 167 passengers aboard, and in September, threatened to shoot down an aircraft entering Iranian airspace without clearance.