Contact: Dan Hubbard, 202-783-9360, firstname.lastname@example.org
Washington, DC, Feb. 3, 2022 – In a statement submitted today at a hearing of the Aviation Subcommittee of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) reaffirmed the critical need for greater collaboration between government agencies to properly address aviation safety concerns stemming from the rollout of new 5G wireless telecommunications networks.
Last month, Verizon and AT&T deployed new, nationwide 5G networks operating between 3.7-3.98 gigahertz, adjacent to “C-band” frequency spectrum utilized by radar altimeters that measure an aircraft’s real-time height over terrain and obstacles. Interference concerns led the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to restrict certain aircraft operations dependent on radar altimeter data in 5G environments.
“With the significant benefits that 5G technology will provide for connectivity across the nation, NBAA believes these networks must safely co-exist with aviation,” read the NBAA statement. The Feb. 3 hearing, titled “Finding the Right Frequency: 5G Deployment & Aviation Safety,” included FAA Administrator Steve Dickson, representatives from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other government, aviation industry and telecommunications stakeholders.
“The aviation industry has been open to working with the FCC, FAA and other agencies to advance the discussion on these issues,” NBAA continued. “Unfortunately, since the December 2020 auction of the 5G-C spectrum [to AT&T and Verizon], the required levels of coordination did not occur.”
The result was two FAA airworthiness directives (ADs) and more than 1,500 notices to air missions (NOTAMs) restricting low-visibility operations by fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters and affecting a host of other aircraft systems tied to radar altimeter functionality. While NBAA commended the FAA’s efforts, the association emphasized that those actions came from “a reactive position because the necessary proactive coordination had not occurred.”
NBAA further lauded the FAA’s diligence in issuing alternative methods of compliance (AMOCs) for aircraft to safely operate in 5G environments, although the agency’s focus on commercial airliners has delayed similar AMOCs for general aviation and business aircraft. Currently, the FAA must also reissue all 5G AMOCs every 30 days, compounding delays in issuing new AMOCs.
The resulting situation highlights the need for greater interagency collaboration not only today, NBAA summarized, but even more so in the future, as emerging aviation technologies, including advanced air mobility aircraft with autonomous capabilities, create new wireless spectrum challenges.
“By working collaboratively with the FCC, telecom providers and other stakeholders, the FAA could have better visibility into future 5G impacts,” NBAA stated. “The general aviation community looks forward to working with the FAA on an improved process so we can continue accessing airports across the nation and performing our critical missions.”
Additional information about the effects of 5G on business aviation is available at nbaa.org/5G.
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Founded in 1947 and based in Washington, DC, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) is the leading organization for companies that rely on general aviation aircraft to help make their businesses more efficient, productive and successful. The association represents more than 10,000 company and professional members and provides more than 100 products and services to the business aviation community, including the NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE), the world’s largest civil aviation trade show. Learn more about NBAA at nbaa.org.
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