GPS Reliability: A Review of Aviation Industry Performance, Safety Issues, and Avoiding Potential New and Costly Government Burdens

House Transportation Committee
Thursday, June 23, 2011

Two Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittees will conduct an oversight hearing to examine potential impacts on U.S. aviation safety in light of pending government action that may affect Global Positioning System (GPS) reliability.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering an application to build out nationwide broadband internet infrastructure. This plan would allow high-power internet broadcast stations to be built across the country broadcasting on the spectrum neighboring the low-powered GPS signal.

A broad coalition of industry stakeholders who use GPS, including numerous aviation groups, has expressed concern that the high-powered broadband signal will overpower and disable critical GPS navigation and timing functions. Since current aviation operations, as well as the Department of Transportation’s air traffic control modernization effort (NextGen), are dependent on GPS, some in the aviation community have pointed to potential negative impacts GPS interference may have on aviation safety, air traffic control modernization, and job creation within the aviation industry. Initial government testing has validated some of these interference concerns, including interference with civil, military, and U.S. Coast Guard receivers. There are also concerns about possible GPS disruptions in marine navigation.

The joint hearing of the Aviation Subcommittee and the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee will receive testimony from federal government and industry witnesses regarding their concerns with GPS interference; the implications of that interference on GPS reliability, NextGen, and aviation job creation; and the potential remedies to GPS interference.