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GAMA Emphasizes Risks of GPS Interference In Congressional Testimony

GAMA NEWS 11-24 For Immediate Release: Jun 22, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC, June 23, 2011 – In written testimony submitted today to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittees on Aviation and Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) President and CEO Pete Bunce stressed the risks to NextGen and aviation safety associated with allowing a company called LightSquared to use the satellite spectrum immediately neighboring that of the Global Positioning System (GPS) through ground-based transmissions.

This has caused serious concern within the GPS user community, especially aviation, since the planned spectrum use by LightSquared is fundamentally incompatible with existing GPS uses.  GAMA, eight government agencies, and many aviation and other GPS user groups have registered strong objections based upon the test results that show certain interference with GPS.

“Simply put, if LightSquared’s proposed service goes into operation, it will compromise public safety, transportation systems, and aeronautical emergency communications,” said Bunce.  “GPS is an essential part of our nation’s air transportation system and is critical for modernization, which will address the nation’s need for expanded air traffic capacity.” 

Any system that threatens the reception of GPS signals could have a catastrophic affect upon the extensive ground and air infrastructure for GPS that has already been deployed and paid for by operators and the U.S. taxpayer – the federal investment alone totals $35 billion to date.

“In our view, there is no straightforward solution that would permit GPS and LightSquared’s intended terrestrial-based plan to move forward; any interference generated near the L-Band, where GPS bandwidth operates, will be catastrophic to the aviation sector and consumers and require years to transition,” said Bunce.

Initial research suggests that even if a filter could be developed that would enable GPS receivers to filter LightSquared’s signal, the costs associated with designing the filter, redesigning the receiver, retrofitting aircraft with the receiver, as well as the required FAA certification processes associated with each step would be staggering and could conservatively take seven to ten years to complete.  Manufacturers and aviation operators should not have their investments in equipage placed at great risk by LightSquared’s ill-conceived plan.

Bunce concluded, “The FAA’s limited certification resources should not be further burdened during a time when manufacturers are already stymied by FAA delays in certifying new products and technologies.”

View a full copy of the written testimony:

Communications Director:
Andre Castro:
General Aviation Manufacturers Association
Headquarters: (+1) 202-393-1500
European Office: (+32) 2 550-3900

GAMA exists to foster and advance the general welfare, safety, interests, and activities of the global business and general aviation industry. This includes promoting a better understanding of general aviation manufacturing, maintenance, repair, and overhaul and the important role these industry segments play in economic growth and opportunity, and in serving the critical transportation needs of communities, companies, and individuals worldwide.