House Caucus Acts To Stall LightSquared

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Congressman Sam Graves, R-Mo., chair of the House General Aviation Caucus, has asked the Federal Communications Commission to shelve LightSquared's request for a waiver until testing ensures that there will be no interference with all types of GPS devices, Helicopter Association International said on Monday. The conflict over the LightSquared deployment is intensifying, as the FCC is expected to rule by the end of this month whether to allow the company to launch, according to NBAA. LightSquared, in a statement on Friday, reiterated its position that it's up to the GPS industry to fix the interference problem by recalling and upgrading their devices.

That may not be so easy, however. In a recent congressional hearing, Tim Taylor, CEO of FreeFlight Systems, said even if the technology is available to filter the LightSquared signal, that doesn't mean it can be immediately deployed. "The idea that a new entrant into the marketplace can arbitrarily introduce a product that immediately compromises aviation safety and security, while expecting the aviation industry to design, manufacture, test, certify and install an aviation compliant filter, is simply not realistic," he said. An analysis (PDF) by the Coalition to Save Our GPS, released last week, claimed that if LightSquared proceeds as planned, the cost to the FAA and the civil aviation community would be about $72 billion.