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Congress Seeks Answers on Aviation, Telecommunications Conflicts

February 10, 2022 –The lack of collaboration between government agencies regarding the 5G technology rollout and aviation interference was highlighted numerous times on February 3, as the House Aviation Subcommittee heard from FAA Administrator Steve Dickson, aviation industry leaders, and telecom representatives during a hearing on Capitol Hill.

The potential threat of radar altimeter interference, primarily for commercial air operations but also for general aviation users of the technology, loomed over air service until late January, when technical experts from both industries met to share data and solutions. Although the immediate threat of frequency interference was temporarily resolved by a delayed 5G rollout near many airports, unanswered questions remain on what will occur after the six-month hold expires. In addition, left unanswered were possible impacts on public service operations, such as medical helicopters, as well as effects on regional air service and GA users of radar altimeters.

Committee members also were left with open questions on the lack of coordination between the Federal Communications Commission and numerous federal telecommunications and transportation agencies on the potential conflicts between the 5G frequency auction and aviation technology and why long-standing concerns had not been addressed sooner.

EAA will continue to press for technical solutions for radar altimeters on GA aircraft and possible future mitigations to interference on GA operations. EAA also remains concerned with the FCC’s process for frequency spectrum allocation and auctions that have could have detrimental and expensive consequences for industries outside direct FCC oversight in adjacent frequency bands. This issue will only grow over time as frequency spectrum is a finite resource with ever greater demands for its use.

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