Aircraft operators have notified the FAA of several instances of an intermittent loss of GPS position information that has been the result of the use of a SPOT portable electronic device (PED) as the cause of the interference. The SPOT satellite messenger PED transmits position information to a satellite communications network at user-selected intervals from 2.5 to 60 minutes.
As a result of this interference, the FAA has published InFo For Operators 19006, which provides awareness to Part 91 aircraft owners, operators, and pilots on the safe use of SPOT PEDs. It also reminds the flying public of existing regulations, policy, and guidance covering the safe use of PEDs on board aircraft.
Pilots often place the SPOT PED on the glareshield and consequently, the device may transmit in close proximity to the aircraft’s installed GPS antenna. Operators have identified this proximity as a contributor to the interference issue. “SPOT is working cooperatively with the FAA to provide detailed information to its existing and future customers regarding the safe use of SPOT PEDs during aircraft operations,” the agency said. “SPOT plans to include this updated information on its website, in its products' quick-start guide pamphlets, and in an email notification to its existing customers.”
The FAA warns that this GPS interference also affects aircraft systems that rely on GPS position data, such as ADS-B Out. “The operator or pilot-in-command shall determine that using a SPOT PED does not interfere with the navigation and communications systems prior to operating under IFR,” the FAA said. “Additional guidance on the use of PEDs aboard aircraft is available in Advisory Circular 91.21-1D.”