April 25, 2023

NBAA joined 90 transportation industry trade associations, agricultural aviation groups and others in a renewed call urging the FCC to vacate its controversial approval of a high-speed broadband cellular network that studies prove may interfere with GPS and satellite communications networks.

The FCC ruling, known as the Ligado Order, came in April 2020, as global aviation traffic declined sharply at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Opponents have steadfastly maintained the FCC acted despite the lack of sufficient information into potential interference from L-band signals near frequencies used by GPS.

“We greatly appreciate your administration’s opposition to the Ligado Order and commitment that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), on behalf of the executive branch, will continue to actively pursue its petition for reconsideration of the order,” stated the industry letter to President Joe Biden.

The renewed industry call to vacate the decision follows a subsequent independent technical review – mandated by bipartisan action in Congress and undertaken by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine – confirming the Ligado network “would cause harmful interference at significant ranges to incumbent L-band services across a broad range of deployment scenarios.”

Read the full letter. (PDF)

Interference concerns were also noted in a host of other “well-supported and robustly documented analyses and determinations of the federal government, including fourteen federal agencies and departments, and commercial parties alike,” the letter read. “The unequivocal conclusions of the NAS Report constitute the exact type of previously unavailable information that the FCC’s rules dictate must be addressed on reconsideration.”

NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen urged swift action to revoke the Ligado decision. “GPS forms the backbone of our National Aviation System, which is the safest in the world,” he stated. “With numerous studies now reaffirming our industries’ concerns about dangerous interference to these vital systems from the Ligado network, it’s long past time for the FCC to do the right thing and rethink its ill-considered decision.”

Petitioners also noted findings from the U.S. Department of Defense that the Ligado network “will create unacceptable harmful interference for DoD missions,” and that mitigations proposed by the company “are insufficient to protect national security missions.”

The NTIA petition is one of eight such calls before the FCC to reconsider its decision.