FAA Official Criticizes LightSquared; AEA President Says LightSquared’s Quick Fix is Anything But

John Hickey, Federal Aviation Administration deputy associate administrator for aviation safety, made headlines with his comments on LightSquared while speaking at the recent Air Traffic Control Association meeting in Washington, D.C.

According to the Aero-News Network, Hickey said that the proposal from LightSquared is having a “chilling effect” on the rollout of NextGen, as well as operators considering making a significant investment in ADS-B hardware. Hickey indicated that the proposal by LightSquared to place a nationwide wireless broadband service on frequencies adjacent to those used by millions of GPS receivers is causing the implementation of NextGen air traffic control to grind nearly to a halt.

"Operators will wait several years down the road to see what happens," Hickey said. "This is the most intractable problem I have been involved with in 31 years in aviation. Technology can solve this, but the real problem is time and cost. If we have in any way a compromise to the (GPS) system, we compromise the future of NextGen."

LightSquared has commissioned the development of a $6 filter that it claims resolve most concerns with a quick fix, though independent testing has not confirmed the solution actually works.

In a recent interview  with the Kansas City Business Journal, AEA President Paula Derks reacted negatively to LightSquared’s filter solution by saying, “To us, it’s a very quick fix, and I don’t think LightSquared understands our industry.”

Hickey’s comments come days after the AEA testified on LightSquared in front of C-SPAN3 national television cameras on Oct. 12. Tim Taylor, president and CEO of FreeFlight Systems, represented the AEA in front of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Small Business hearing on “LightSquared, the Impact to Small Business GPS User.” Taylor told the Committee that, "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." Click here to read the entire prepared statement for Congress from Taylor on behalf of the AEA.