GPS interference prevented Finnair's airplane from landing in Joensuu

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On Tuesday morning, a Finnair aircraft traveling from Helsinki to Joensuu at 6.35 was unable to land due to GPS interference. After some time, the captain decided to return to Helsinki, resulting in the cancellation of the return flight from Joensuu to Helsinki.

Joensuu is the regional capital of North Karelia, and the city’s eastern region borders to Russia.

The flight time between Helsinki and Joensuu is approximately one hour and five minutes.

Kajsa Tikkanen, Finnair’s chief of communications, explained that Joensuu airport is one of few airports in Finland that only uses satellite based GPS navigation in guiding aircraft during the approach. Hence, if GPS interference appears the aircraft is not allowed to initiate or continue the approach.

While the GPS signal is essential for a plane’s approach prior to landing, it does not usually affect navigation during the flight.

Most airports also use ground based landing systems in assisting airplane approaches. They are not as sensitive to interference.

Tikkanen noted that GPS interference usually lasts only a few minutes, but this time it persisted, resulting in the captain’s decision to return to Helsinki.

Recently, GPS interference has occurred, impacting flight traffic. Tikkanen added that pilots are aware of this issue and know how to respond in such situations.