A Readington man has been fined nearly $32,000 by the Federal Communications Commission after concluding he interfered with Newark Liberty International Airport’s satellite-based tracking system when he used an illegal GPS jamming device in his pickup truck to hide his whereabouts from his employer.
Disrupting satellite signals can hinder air traffic controllers’ ability to receive accurate information about a plane’s location in the air and on the runway.
In what is known as a notice of apparent liability posted on its website last Friday, the FCC imposed the civil penalty on Gary Bojczak, who lives in the Whitehouse Station section of Readington in Hunterdon County.
The FCC said in its notice that its enforcement division received a complaint last August from the Federal Aviation Administration that the satellite-based tracking system at Newark Liberty was experiencing interference.
Known as a ground-based augmentation system, or GBAS, the tracking system uses satellite navigation technology to provide aircraft with precise location information to aid in takeoffs, landings and movements around the airport. System interference blocks the transmission of that data.
An investigator from the FCC’s enforcement division went to Newark Liberty on Aug. 4, 2012. Using radio monitoring equipment, he located a red Ford F-150 pickup on airport property that was emanating signals within a restricted frequency band used by the augmentation system.
“The signals emanating from the vehicle were blocking the reception of GPS signals” used by the air traffic control system, the FCC said in its notice.
“Mr. Bojczak claimed that he installed and operated the jamming device in his company-supplied vehicle to block the GPS … system that his employer installed in the vehicle,” the FCC decision stated.
Satellite technology is the basic component of the FAA’s planned NextGen national air traffic control system to replace an antiquated radar-based system. Implementation of NextGen is a multiyear, multibillion project in its infant stages.