Commercial aircraft flying in areas of the Western Pacific, South China Sea, Philippine Sea and Eastern Indian Ocean have reported VHF interference, allegedly caused by the Chinese military.
In an internal notice issued to its Flight Operations Department, Australian airline Qantas has warned its pilots that aircraft have received communications from persons “purporting to represent the Chinese military” on VHF 121.5. The airline advises pilots that, if this type of interferences or communications occurs, they should continue to track their assigned clearance and contact ATC.
Some aircraft may also have experienced GPS jamming, thought to have come from warships operating off the Northwest coast of Australia.
A similar warning was issued by the International Federation of Air Line Pilots Associations (IFALPA). In its communiqué, IFALPA noted that aircraft had been contacted on VHF frequencies 121.5 and 123.45, with the said warships providing vectors for the aircraft to avoid flying near specific areas near them. GPS interference was also reported.
In its guidance, IFALPA recommends that pilots should ignore these communications and contact ATC immediately whenever this happens.
It also added that “IFALPA is engaging with IATA and Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) to ensure that all parties are aligned with our procedures and to prevent this from occurring in the future”.
No safety-endangering incidents have been reported as a result of this situation.