Subcommittee Hears Testimony On Importance In Protecting GPS
By Eddy Metcalf
February 10, 2012 - Capt. Sean Cassidy, Air Line Pilots
Association’s (ALPA) First Vice President, emphasized
“the vital importance of the Global Positioning System
(GPS) as a key component of [the U.S.] transportation
infrastructure” during a House Aviation Subcommittee
hearing on Wednesday.
GPS is the global navigation satellite system (GNSS)
that provides position and timing information at any
place on the globe with a high degree of accuracy. The
use of GPS in the aviation industry benefits safety and
efficiency by providing highly reliable information when
compared to the 1950’s era based technology currently in
GPS will soon replace radar in the primary surveillance
method, and the Department of Transportation (DOT) and
the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) already
utilize GPS technology in a broad variety of
surveillance, navigation, safety, and efficiency
Wednesday’s “hearing brought focus on the importance of the
Global Positioning System to aviation and the broader economy.
Witnesses’ testimony further underscored the vital nature of GPS
as an element of transportation infrastructure, ensuring the
safe and efficient use of the aviation system,” said Chariman
who is also ALPA’s National Safety Coordinator, testified on the
operational significance of GPS to airline flying at the
hearing, titled “A Review of Issues Associated with Protecting
and Improving Our Nation’s Aviation Satellite-Based Global
Positioning System Infrastructure.”
Representatives from government agencies, the International
Civil Aviation Organization, major aviation organizations, and
avionics manufacturer Garmin expressed universal agreement that
protecting GPS from potential interference is vital to U.S.
security, safety, and commerce.
They also were unanimous in their warnings that the various proposals presented by telecommunications company LightSquared to install 40,000 high-powered ground transmitters operating on the frequency immediately adjacent to that used by GPS would cause potentially catastrophic interference and widespread GPS outages.
LightSquared is a
company that plans to develop a wholesale 4G LTE wireless broadband
communications network integrated with satellite coverage across the
Several federal agencies with vital concerns about this spectrum band, including the Departments of Defense, Transportation and Homeland Security, have informed NTIA that they believe the FCC should defer action on the LightSquared waiver until these interference concerns are satisfactorily addressed. As Cassidy testified, “Rigorous industry and government testing demonstrated that, if the LightSquared proposal had been allowed to go forward, GPS would be inaccessible over large regions of the United States at normal operational altitudes for airliners.
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