AOPA works with House GA Caucus to protect GPS

June 15, 2011

LightSquared’s proposed communication band network “may jam GPS receivers, disrupt GPS signals, and create ‘dead spots’ across our country,” 36 concerned members of the House General Aviation Caucus wrote to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) June 10.

The FCC had granted a waiver to LightSquared “allowing it to repurpose the satellite spectrum immediately neighboring that of GPS,” as AOPA previously reported. But testing has uncovered problematic interference with GPS. A special committee within the RTCA, a federal advisory group on navigation and air-traffic management policy, released a study earlier this month that stated the LightSquared proposal is incompatible with GPS. LightSquared also is conducting its own study that will be turned in to the FCC.

While LightSquared Chairman and CEO Sanjiv Ahuja has publicly said that the company will work with GPS users to find a solution, members of Congress have been reaching out to the FCC to ensure that the commission protects GPS.

“If GPS is interfered with, aviation and numerous other private and public sector activities will be adversely impacted, including public safety, homeland security, transportation, agriculture and construction,” wrote members of the House GA Caucus, led by Co-Chairs John Barrow (D-Ga.) and Sam Graves (R-Mo.). They also pointed out that GPS receivers are a “central component to the Federal Aviation Administration’s Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast based Next Generation Air Transportation System.”

AOPA members of Congress who signed the Caucus letter include Graves, Barrow, Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.), Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas), Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa), Rep. Rick Berg (R-N.D.), Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.), and Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.).

The letter also was signed by House Aviation subcommittee Chairman Tom Petri (R-Wis.) and ranking member Jerry Costello (D-Ill.) who also will hold an aviation subcommittee hearing on June 23 to examine potential GPS interference and impacts on aviation safety. AOPA President Craig Fuller will testify at the hearing.

“We greatly appreciate the House GA Caucus for being so receptive to the concerns that many of our members have expressed regarding LightSquared,” said Lorraine Howerton, AOPA vice president of legislative affairs. “On the heels of our efforts to drum up support for similar letters from both the Senate and the House, we continue to work with our key supporters on Capitol Hill to advocate on the issues that are important to our members.”

Members of the Senate GA Caucus previously urged the FCC to protect GPS. Members of both GA caucuses understand the value general aviation plays in the national transportation system and that GPS has quickly become a backbone of air navigation.

In addition to the 36 Caucus members who signed the House GA Caucus letter, eight other GA Caucus members signed a previous letter on LightSquared: Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), Steve Pearce (R-N.M.), Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio), Aaron Schock (R-Ill.), Adrian Smith (R-Neb.), and Steve Stivers (R-Ohio).

Find out if your representative signed the GA Caucus letter and consider sending the official a note of thanks for sticking up for GA.