Qantas pilots have been issued a notice warning about interference on VHF systems from stations posing as the Chinese military.
In a note issued by the airline on Thursday, pilots were informed the interference had been detected in the western Pacific and South China Sea.
“In addition, Group aircraft have experienced GPS jamming suspected to originate from warships operating off the North West Shelf of Australia,” the note read.
The airline assured pilots there had been “no safety events reported that relate to this activity”.
Pilots were issued directives on what to do if they encountered the highlighted interference.
VHF (very high frequency) covers radio waves at frequencies 30 to 300MHz and has multiple radio communication uses.
“Should flight crew experience this interference they should continue to track via their assigned clearance and report the interference to the controlling ATC authority,” the advice read.
“An Intelex Report must be submitted providing details of the event or any other unusual activity after landing.”
The International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations also released a statement revealing it had been “made aware of some airlines and military aircraft” being called over certain VHF (very high frequency) numbers “by military warships in the Pacific region, notably South China Sea, Philippine Sea, East of Indian Ocean”.
“In some cases, the flights were provided vectors to avoid the airspace over the warship.”
The IFALPA said it had reason to believe there might be interferences to Global Navigation Satellite Systems and Radio Altimeter systems too.
“IFALPA is engaging with the International Air Transport Association 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,” the statement read.
The international body recommended that pilots not respond to the interferences and immediately report them to the controlling agency.
They were also encouraged to “notify your company’s dispatcher of the attempted contact” then to complete a safety report immediately.
China to be briefed on AUKUS
The fiasco comes as China prepares to be briefed on Australia’s multibillion-dollar plan to acquire nuclear-powered submarines despite accusing the AUKUS partners of going down a “path of error and danger”.
In recent days, more than 60 nations have taken up a briefing by the federal government as ministers and bureaucrats seek to allay nuclear proliferation fears.
Beijing did not initially take up the call when offered by Foreign Minister Penny Wong last week, but she confirmed officials would take part in a briefing later on Wednesday.
“We are having a general diplomatic corps briefing, and I understand China will be attending and along with many other countries, and that is a good thing,” she told ABC Radio.
China had earlier reacted to Australia’s submarine deal saying it had begun to go “further down a dangerous road”.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, alongside British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and American President Joe Biden in San Diego, announced the historic AUKUS deal on Tuesday, which will cost between $268b and $368b by the 2050s, with homemade nuclear submarines to be ready by 2042.
The program will see Australia purchase at least three submarines from the US, as well as upgrades to extend the life of the existing fleet, with at least five UK-designed vessels with US-technology to be built in Adelaide by the 2040s.
China’s foreign ministry reacted by saying the three countries had “disregarded” concerns of the international community and accused them of acting only to further their geopolitical interests.
“The latest joint statement from the United States, United Kingdom and Australia demonstrates that the three countries, for the sake of their own geopolitical interests, completely disregard the concerns of the international communities and are walking further and further down the path of error and danger,” China‘s foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Tuesday.