Washington Report, Sept-Oct 2021
On June 22, Senators Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois) and Mike Rounds (R-South Dakota) introduced the Recognizing and Ensuring Taxpayer Access to Infrastructure Necessary for GPS and Satellite 14 Communications Act of 2021 (RETAIN Act). The April 2020 decision by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recognized the likelihood of Ligado’s L-Band technology to interfere with GPS signals and requires the company to pay the federal government the costs for repairs. However, Inhofe stated, 99% of the more than 900 million GPS devices in the US are used by the private sector, consumers, as well as state and local governments, and Ligado should be liable for those costs as well.
VFS was one of 84 organizations that signed a letter to the senators, supporting the RETAIN Act.
The RETAIN Act was introduced into the House on July 22 by Representatives Jim Cooper (D-Tennessee) and Mike Turner (R-Ohio). The concern is that the Ligado interference with GPS and satellite communications systems will affect critical aviation missions, including helicopter and AAM operations in low-altitude environments. VFS has been supporting efforts for several years to limit the Ligado technology’s negative impact on aviation.
On Aug. 10, the Senate passed a $1T bipartisan infrastructure bill that included $73B for electric grid and power infrastructure, $25B for airports and $15B for electric vehicles.
In July, a group of 19 companies sent a letter to the top Senate and House leaders requesting that electric aircraft charging infrastructure not be excluded. According to Aviation Today, the signatories were Joby, Lilium, AECOM, Ampaire, Archer, Beta Technologies, Bye Aerospace, Ferrovial Vertiports, Five Alpha, Eviation, Eve, Hyundai, MagniX, Overair, Pipistrel, Skyports, Tavistock Development Company, Vanasse Hangen Brustlin and Wisk.
“Both Congress and the Administration correctly recognized the need to invest in electric vehicle [i.e., cars and trucks] charging infrastructure to reduce transportation emissions and improve mobility,” the letter stated. “Many communities, airports and companies plan to incorporate electric aircraft as part of their green transportation strategies. We, therefore, respectfully request that infrastructure legislation include eligibility for the deployment of electric aircraft charging infrastructure.”
“To make zero-emission, high-speed urban and regional air mobility a real transportation option, it is critical that electrification and charging infrastructure funding and financing programs include aviation application eligibility,” the letter said.