PM's plane appears on public tracking, raising security questions
The plane that flies Prime Minister Justin Trudeau around the world can be tracked in mid-air using a simple website or free app, a fact that some security experts say could put him at risk.
Trudeau’s official plane broadcasts its location using transponders and, unlike U.S. President Barack Obama’s jet or similar flights carrying global dignitaries, the signal isn’t cloaked.
That means the plane’s location can be picked up by public flight-tracking websites such as Flight Radar 24, which pinpoints the whereabouts of planes around the globe.
"With some pre-planning and some information from a system like Flight Radar 24, (terrorists) could position a surface-to-air missile to take down an aircraft," aviation expert Todd Curtis told CTV News.
Those concerns were echoed by Chris Lewis, CTV’s public safety analyst.
"Someone with nefarious intentions can actually track the prime minister of Canada as he moves across the country,” Lewis said.
However, the Royal Canadian Air Force says that transmitting a plane’s location is simply common practice.
"Every single aircraft that is flying in international airspace are required to transmit their location, at any time. We do this, our partners and neighbours to the south do the same," RCAF spokesperson Capt. Wright Eruebi said.
So far, the Department of National Defence and the Prime Minister’s Office have not responded to CTV’s requests for comment.
And Trudeau isn’t the only one possibly at risk flying in a Canadian aircraft. The Queen, members of the Royal Family and other leaders who travel on Canadian Forces aircraft can also be tracked in the air.
Some experts fear that the flight-tracking information could be dangerous in the hands of terror groups. Last year, a Russian missile took down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine, killing all 298 travellers on board.
Lewis suggests that disguising the whereabouts of Trudeau’s jet could mitigate any concerns.
"The prime minister of Canada is important too, so I'm sure if they have the ability to cloak him they will, and let’s hope that happens in the near future," he said.
Trudeau and his family have made several high-profile trips in the past few weeks, with stops in the U.K., Malta and Paris, where the United Nations Climate Change Conference begins Monday.
With files from CTV’s Peter Akman