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Pratt & Whitney Canada
Pratt & Whitney Canada
The monthly news publication for aviation professionals.
NBAA looks to put the brakes on Ligado 5G
Ligado asserts it has limited GPS signal disruptions from its network to within a 500 ft diameter around transmission towers, but the industry isn't convinced. Eleven organisations wrote to the FCC to complain.

Citing multiple concerns about harm to the US GPS-based National Airspace System (NAS), NBAA has joined with a coalition of aviation stakeholders to respond to Ligado Networks' dispute of a petition from NBAA and others asking the FCC to pause its approval of Ligado's proposed broadband cellular communications network.

Ligado, formerly known as LightSquared, filed a dispute last month after the 11 aviation groups cited numerous discrepancies in a petition questioning the FCC's decision to allow deployment of a high-speed 5G nationwide cellular service operating within bands traditionally utilised by GPS and satellite communications (satcom) networks, including for aviation communications.

The groups' response asserts the breadth of opposition offers ample reason to pause the FCC's approval of Ligado's network, particularly when viewed against the two counterarguments raised by parties with known financial interests in the telecommunications entity.

“The oppositions filed by Ligado and its hired allies repeatedly resort to mischaracterisation of the petition, the order, the FAA's own analysis that the order is fundamentally based upon and the record,” reads the aviation group's response. “More troubling, the oppositions further illustrate the inadequacy of the order's conditions to address the harmful interference that Ligado's planned deployments will cause GPS receivers and satcom terminals.”

Ligado asserts it has limited GPS signal disruptions from its network to within a 500 ft diameter around transmission towers. The aviation groups counter those claims were not properly validated through evaluation of various operational scenarios by the FCC and the FAA and significant safety concerns still have not been addressed.

Heidi Williams, NBAA director for air traffic services and infrastructure, states: “We continue to emphasise that all parties in the nation's aviation system, including general aviation, rely heavily on GPS, more than just a decade ago, and we must challenge even the slightest compromise to the safety of GPS communications. It is unfortunate that with its latest filing, Ligado has chosen to simply overlook the legitimate concerns about the company's plans, instead of drawing from our coalition's expertise to ensure the continued safety and integrity of operations in the nation's airspace.”

In addition to NBAA, industry signatories to the petition include the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA); the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA); Airlines 4 America (A4A); Aviation Spectrum Resources, Inc (ASRI); the Cargo Airline Association (CAA); the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA); Helicopter Association International (HAI); the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the National Air Transportation Association (NATA).

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