Pilots warned that DOD tests will disrupt GPS signals

FAA issues advisory for East and West coasts

The Federal Aviation Administration has issued a warning to pilots to expect unreliable performance from Global Positioning System (GPS) instruments in the Southeast and Southwest United States, resulting from tests being done by the Defense Department.

The Register, a news outlet in the United Kingdom, reported the Notice To Airmen (NOTAM) advisories about the impending tests. The first NOTAM advised that Southern California aircraft GPS be affected from Jan. 16 to Jan. 23. The Southeast will have two series of tests, the first from Jan. 20 to Feb. 11 and another round from Feb. 15 to Feb. 22. Pilots are being told that GPS may be unreliable or unavailable during the testing periods.

“Several test events will be conducted and will be active for 45 minutes, followed by 15 minutes of off time,” the FAA NOTAM states. "These tests may not be concurrent so pilots are advised to check NOTAMs frequently for possible changes prior to operating in the area.”

The test is based off the coast of Georgia, centered at coordinates N304906 by W0802811 and has a radius of 370 nautical miles.

A spokesperson at the FAA said that there will be “no impact to ground vehicle GPS.” That means that smart phones, automobile guidance systems and other civilian GPS functions will not be affected by the tests.

“Pilots are highly recommended to report anomalies during testing to the appropriate ARTCC to assist in the determination of the extent of GPS degradation during tests,” the FAA NOTAM said.

About the Author

Dan Rowinski is a staff reporter covering communications technologies.

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Reader Comments

Sat, May 18, 2013

The CITIZENS OWN the GPS system, we paid for it with our tax dollars. Thinking it's DoD' s is an idiot

Wed, Feb 2, 2011

The problem here is that the FAA is pushing GPS as the PRIMARY means of navigation with its NextGen systems. They are also decommisioning the ground-based NAVAIDS (enroute and some terminal...VORs and NDBs). Additionally, there was a viable backup system for GPS that had been in existance for years that was recently decommissioned and it was LORAN. Between planned outages, solar related outages, and decommisioning, air safety will be jeopardized, period.

Wed, Jan 26, 2011

I have experienced GPS jamming while piloting my aircraft. It isn't a huge problem. All aircraft GPS systems for instrument flight are required to have Receiver Autonomous Integrity Monitoring, or RAIM systems to alert pilots of degraded accuracy. Furthermore, as one descends away from the source, the horizon tends to obscure the problem.

Remember, in most populated areas there is usually radar vectoring service available, and there are also ground based navigation beacons such as VOR and even old Low Frequency Non-Directional Beacons.

Tue, Jan 25, 2011 Buzz

The malfunction of the GPS is due to the military, or some other agency, spraying the atmosphere with weather changing material --- metalic or chemical?

Tue, Jan 25, 2011

GPS is a military owned and operated system. They are testing it in the open ocean and attempting to impact as little traffic as possible. It's a minor inconvenience that is published well in advance.

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