FAA: Navy exercise might affect GPS signals in small planes flying along Southeast

Max Chesnes, Treasure Coast Newspapers
The Federal Aviation Administration announced that from January 16 to 24, 2020, GPS interference testing could lead to unreliable or unavailable signal throughout the southeast.

Pilots flying along the Treasure Coast and throughout the Southeast could experience GPS problems over the next week, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. 

A Navy group called Carrier Strike Group Four is executing an offshore military training exercise that will jam, or block, GPS and navigation signals until Jan. 24, according to an FAA flight advisory released Monday. 

The interference test "may result in unreliable or unavailable GPS signal" for pilots flying as far north as Virginia and as far south as the Florida Keys, according to an FAA map included in the release. Pilots flying in altitudes as low as 50 feet and up to 40,000 feet could be affected.

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According to the administration, Friday's test lasted until 5 p.m. EST. and Saturday's went until 11:59 p.m. The group will resume testing this Thursday from noon to 11:59 p.m. and 11:30 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. next Friday. 

"GPS jammers were initially developed by the military to misguide the enemy about geographic locations and targets," according to SearchSecurity, an online security education platform. "The devices could block more than calls and disrupt all communications within a broad frequency range." 

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A 2019 survey showed more than 64 percent of 1,239 pilots questioned were concerned about the interference on their GPS devices, according to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association

According to the administration, all pilots who encounter signal issues are encouraged to file a report through the FAA's "GPS Anomaly Reporting Form." Sections on the form include the location of the issue, what satellites were being used and type of GPS experiencing issues. 

Max Chesnes is a TCPalm breaking news reporter for Indian River County. You can keep up with Max on Twitter @MaxChesnes and give him a call at 772-978-2224.

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This article originally appeared on Treasure Coast Newspapers: GPS signals could be impacted by Navy exercise in Southeast Florida