The devices are so cheap and ubiquitous it’s hard to nab truckers using them near airports.
Illegal GPS jammers have interfered with a GPS-based precision landing system at Newark Liberty International Airport since at least 2009 , and so far it appears the Federal Communications Commission has caught just two folks who use the gadgets.
Truckers on the adjacent New Jersey Turnpike and airport roads use the jammers to knock out GPS tracking devices installed by their employers, and by doing so, they also interfere with operation of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Ground Based Augmentation System, which provides enhanced navigation signals to aircraft in the vicinity of the airport for precision approach, departure procedures, and terminal area operations.
The FCC announced last Friday it had busted a driver of a Ford F-150 pickup truck at the airport on Aug. 4, 2012, for operating a GPS jammer and slapped him with a $32,000 fine, following an interference complaint from the FAA on Aug. 3.
The driver, Gary P. Bojczak, was nabbed by an agent from the Enforcement Bureau New York office patrolling the airport with a direction finding signal sniffer. Bojczak, the FCC said, “admitted that he owned and operated the radio transmitting device that was jamming GPS transmissions. Mr. Bojczak claimed that he installed and operated the jamming device in his company-supplied vehicle to block the GPS-based vehicle tracking system that his employer installed in the vehicle.” Bojczak voluntarily surrendered the jammer to the FCC agent.
The FCC got lucky with this case, compared to earlier efforts to detect GPS jammers operated near the Newark airport. John Merrill, program manager for position, timing and navigation at the Homeland Security Department told a GPS conference in March 2012 that it took FAA and FCC from March 2009 until April 2011 to locate a single GPS jammer operated by another trucker on the New Jersey Turnpike.
Detecting GPS jammers is an exercise akin to trying to hold back the sea -- a Google search for the gadgets returned 1.7 million results, with many selling for well under $100.
Where oh where is a backup to GPS and when will it happen?
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