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Messing with GPS

Posted: 06-07-2016 04:43 PM
by voguy

FAA Warns of GPS Outages This Month During Mysterious Tests on the West Coast
Matt Novak - 6/7/2016 10:50AM

Starting today, it appears the US military will be testing a device or devices that will potentially jam GPS signals for six hours each day. We say “appears” because officially the tests were announced by the FAA but are centered near the US Navy’s largest installation in the Mojave Desert. And the Navy won’t tell us much about what’s going on.

The FAA issued an advisory warning pilots on Saturday that global positioning systems (GPS) could be unreliable during six different days this month, primarily in the Southwestern United States. On June 7, 9, 21, 23, 28, and 30th the GPS interference testing will be taking place between 9:30am and 3:30pm Pacific time. But if you’re on the ground, you probably won’t notice interference.

The testing will be centered on China Lake, California—home to the Navy’s 1.1 million acre Naval Air Weapons Center in the Mojave Desert. The potentially lost signals will stretch hundreds of miles in each direction and will affect various types of GPS, reaching the furthest at higher altitudes. But the jamming will only affect aircraft above 50 feet. As you can see from the FAA map below, the jamming will almost reach the California-Oregon border at 4o,000 feet above sea level and 505 nautical miles at its greatest range.
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I gave the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division a call yesterday, but they couldn’t tell me much.

“We’re aware of the flight advisory,” Deidre Patin, Public Affairs specialist for Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division told me over the phone. But she couldn’t give me any details about whether there was indeed GPS “jamming,” nor whether it had happened before. Patin added, “I can’t go into the details of the testing, it’s general testing for our ranges.”

As AVWeb points out, Embraer Phenom 300 business jets are being told to avoid the area completely during the tests. The FAA claims that the jamming test could interfere with the business jet’s “aircraft flight stability controls.”

GPS technology has become so ubiquitous that cheap jamming technology has become a real concern for both military and civilian aircraft. And if we had to speculate we’d say that these tests are probably pulling double duty for both offensive and defensive military capabilities. But honestly, that’s just a guess.

These tests are naturally going to fuel plenty of conspiracy theories about mind control, weather modification, and aliens—especially with China Lake’s proximity to both large population centers like LA and Las Vegas, and the fact that Area 51 is practically just down the road. But it doesn’t take a conspiracy theorist to tell us we’re **** if terrorists or **** teenagers make it a habit of jamming GPS signals for everybody.

If you experience any significant GPS interference this month or know the “real” reason behind these test (aliens, right?) please let us know in the comments.

Correction 11:24am: This post originally misstated that one level of interference would occur at 4,000 feet. It’s 40,000 feet above sea level, and has been corrected. I regret the error.

VO sez: As a pilot I don't like this one bit. As a citizen, I wonder if this will turn into a weapon against the people.

Re: Messing with GPS ((UPDATE))

Posted: 07-01-2016 06:28 PM
by voguy
Navy cancels planned GPS outage in Southern California
By Elizabeth A Tennyson - Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association

The U.S. Navy has canceled plans to jam GPS signals in the vicinity of the China Lake, California, Naval Air Weapons Station. AOPA had raised concerns about the impact on civilian air traffic and the size of the affected area. The Navy did not reveal the cause of the cancellation, other than to say the reason was “internal.”

AOPA had contacted the Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZLA ARTCC) and relevant FAA offices to express the association’s concerns about the planned outage and its likely impact. The association also had asked the Navy to provide justification for the large geographic area to be impacted by the planned event.
“We have asked the military and FAA to be more transparent around planned GPS outages so that civilian pilots can understand the possible impact on their activities and plan their flights accordingly,” said Rune Duke, AOPA director of airspace and air traffic.
The planned outage was scheduled for an area with a radius of up to 432 nautical miles on six different days in June, running from 4:30 pm to 10:30 p.m. each day.

The outage could have affected GPS and Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast signals. Degraded GPS signals also have been associated with “unplanned pitch and roll events” in Embraer's Phenom 300.

The Department of Defense conducts an estimated 50 GPS jamming events each year to train personnel to operate in an environment where the GPS signal is degraded or unavailable.

Before a GPS outage can be scheduled, the military proponent must submit its plans to the FAA, whose spectrum office analyzes the potential impact. That impact is then depicted graphically and sent to air route traffic control centers (ARTCCs) that would be affected. The ARTCCs and military then work together to minimize the impact on civilian aircraft, including setting limits on the duration of the jamming and the time of day it takes place. When agreement is reached between the military and the FAA, the FAA issues notams and flight advisories.

To protect civilian traffic, the FAA can call a halt to the jamming if it believes the jamming is creating an unsafe situation for aircraft, for example if navigation is impaired in the vicinity of convective activity.

AOPA closely monitors planned outages and works with the FAA, air traffic control facilities, and the military to minimize impacts and provide information to pilots.

“It’s worth noting that the graphics depicting the impact show the worst-case scenario in order to provide a margin of safety for aircraft, and most outages have a minimal impact on civilian aviation,” said Duke. “Nevertheless, it’s important for pilots to be aware of GPS jamming and how it could affect their flights.”

AOPA is working with the FAA to incorporate GPS outage graphics into its Notam Search system, and some flight planning providers are looking for ways to provide the graphics to their users as they do now with temporary flight restrictions.

“Anytime pilots are affected by a GPS outage event, we encourage them to report their experience,” said Duke. “Without reporting by pilots, it’s difficult to know the extent and severity of impacts.”

Please share any impacts you have experienced from a GPS interference event with AOPA.
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