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Aerospace Industry Calls for a Joint Working Group to Find Solutions to Potential 5G Interference on Radio Altimeters
EAA joins organizations and companies from across aviation, aerospace communities
EAA AVIATION CENTER, OSHKOSH, Wisconsin — (November 9, 2021) — The Experimental Aircraft Association has joined a coalition of organizations representing the world’s leading aerospace manufacturers, airlines, pilots, and operators in calling for a delay to the deployment of 5G technologies to the C-band until the safety and efficiency of the National Airspace System (NAS) is ensured.
In a letter to the National Economic Council (NEC), the coalition urges collaboration with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to convene a joint industry working group to bring the aviation and telecommunications industries together to find a long-term solution that will protect the flying public by ensuring radio altimeters operate accurately while allowing 5G to roll out safely.
“We believe it is incumbent on the National Economic Council to work with the FCC and FAA to convene a joint industry working group and continue to delay the deployment of 5G technologies in this band until the safety and efficiency of the NAS is ensured. The goal of this working group would be to reach acceptable mitigations,” they write. “Aviation will not be able to maintain the current level of public safety and economic activity without support from the Biden-Harris Administration and the implementation of mitigations by the cellular industry.”
The letter comes on the heels of the FAA issuing a bulletin alerting manufacturers, operators, and pilots that action may be needed to address potential interference with radio altimeters caused by 5G systems. Radio altimeters are crucial systems used by every commercial aircraft and helicopter and many general aviation aircraft.
“The safety and integrity of aviation operations are always our first priorities, even as we acknowledge the projected benefits of 5G technology for communications and data,” said Sean Elliott, EAA’s vice president of advocacy and safety. “EAA, along with this coalition that spans the aviation and aerospace communities, looks forward to finding solutions that provide assurances of safety alongside the potential of new technologies.”
Joining EAA on the letter are the Aerospace Industries Association, Aerospace Vehicle Systems Institute, the Air Line Pilots Association International, the Airborne Public Safety Association, Airbus, the Aircraft Electronics Association, the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association, Airlines for America, Aviation Spectrum Resources, Inc., the Boeing Company, the Cargo Airline Association, Collins Aerospace, Free Flight Systems, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Garmin International, Inc., the Helicopter Association International, Honeywell International Inc., the International Air Transport Association, the National Air Carrier Association, National Business Aviation Association, and the Regional Airline Association.
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EDITOR’S NOTE: The PDF version of the letter to the National Economic Council is available here, and also provided with this release.
November 5, 2021
National Economic Council
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. Ramamurti,
The undersigned organizations represent the world’s leading aerospace manufacturers, airlines, pilots, and operators. Our industry supports millions of jobs and trillions of dollars in economic activity within the United States. We write to thank you for meeting with our coalition on November 3rd, 2021, and for your part in the recent announcement by Verizon and AT&T to delay their deployments in the 3700-3980 MHz spectrum (C-Band) by one month. While this news is a positive step, we ask you to continue to work to ensure that the additional time results in the goal we’ve had all along, which is to continue safe and efficient aviation operations in the United States National Airspace System (NAS) without disruption from 5G flexible use operations in the C-Band.
As you know, the result of the February 2020 decision by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and subsequent “C-band auction” is that new 5G cellular systems operating in the C-Band will begin to deploy throughout the country shortly. These 5G systems have the potential to cause harmful interference to radio altimeters, which are crucial systems used by every commercial aircraft and helicopter, and many general aviation aircraft. Due to this threat and the lack of action from the FCC, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released a Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin (SAIB) on Risk of Potential Adverse Effects on Radio Altimeters. Without a written agreement of mitigation with FCC and 5G, further FAA actions beyond this SAIB may still be necessary to ensure safety. As discussed, these FAA actions will have enormous economic impacts that the country cannot face, resulting in needless supply chain delays and travel and shipping cancellations.
While we understand and support the importance of making spectrum available to enable next-generation commercial wireless communications, we need the administration and FCC to help aviation and telecommunication industries reach acceptable mitigations.
To that end, we are committed to doing our part by working diligently to develop new standards, equipment, and aircraft/helicopter integration solutions. However, these solutions require more detailed knowledge of the C-Band deployment and will take significant time to ensure they meet the FAA’s robust safety requirements. Because of this, we believe it is incumbent on the National Economic Council (NEC) to work with the FCC and FAA to convene a joint industry working group and continue to delay the deployment of 5G technologies in this band until the safety and efficiency of the NAS is ensured. The goal of this working group would be to reach acceptable mitigations.
Aviation will not be able to maintain the current level of public safety and economic activity without support from the Biden-Harris Administration and the implementation of mitigations by the cellular industry.
We are hopeful that you will continue to take action to help ensure an acceptable timeframe for full consideration and expedite cooperation from all stakeholders to put in place a solution that maintains the United States’ leadership in 5G deployment as well as the safety of the traveling public. We stand ready and willing to do our part and look forward to working with you and your expert agencies on solving this complex technical problem.
Aerospace Industries Association (AIA)
Aerospace Vehicle Systems Institute (AVSI)
Air Line Pilots Association International (ALPA)
Airborne Public Safety Association
Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA)
Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AOPA)
Airlines for America (A4A)
Aviation Spectrum Resources, Inc. (ASRI)
The Boeing Company
Cargo Airline Association
Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA)
Free Flight Systems
Manufacturers Association (GAMA)
Garmin International, Inc
Helicopter Association International (HAI)
Honeywell International Inc.
International Air Transport Association (IATA)
National Air Carrier Association (NACA)
National Business Aviation Association (NBAA)
Regional Airline Association (RAA)
Tim Wu, Special Assistant to the President, NEC
Lisa Hone, Senior Advisor, NEC
Hannah Garden-Monheit, Senior Advisor, NEC