ALPA to Congress: GPS Critical to Aviation Safety, Efficiency

February 8, 2012 - Capt. Sean Cassidy, ALPA’s 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 earlier today. Cassidy, 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.

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.

“Were this proposal, or anything like it, to be allowed to proceed, pilots would lose a tremendous navigation tool that is especially important in mountainous terrain, remote areas, and bad weather, and which supports a safe and efficient air transportation system that helps drive the U.S. economy and secure tens of thousands of jobs.”

View the entire hearing: http://transportation.house.gov/hearings/hearingdetail.aspx?NewsID=1510 and click on “Video of Hearing.”