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Tue, Nov 22, 2022

EAA Joins Petition To US Federal Agencies to Extend 5G Deadline

Paroxysms of Progress

The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA)—a highly-regarded international organization of aviation enthusiasts based in Oshkosh, Wisconsin—has joined companies representing broad segments of the aviation industry in petitioning U.S. federal regulatory agencies for additional time to upgrade radar altimeters against possible 5G wireless signal interference.

In a letter addressed to the FAA, the National Economic Council, the Commerce Department, the DOT, and NTIA, the EAA—along with a coalition of more than twenty aerospace concerns and organizations—argued that myriad aircraft requiring new or retrofitted radar altimeters to operate within 5G zones will not be so equipped by the end of 2022—as had initially been expected. The letter cites numerous reasons for the delay, principal among which is supply-chain delays.

“Our industry is strongly supportive of the deployment and implementation of 5G services nationwide,” the letter stated, “but we will not compromise aviation safety. Since our conversations last winter, the FAA has verified that certain aircraft RAs (radio altimeters) are susceptible to interference from 5G signals with a subsequent degradation of safety.”

One year ago, Part 121 airlines, Part 135 air-taxi operators, and air-freight carriers collectively predicted significant percentages of their respective fleets would be grounded if accommodations were not made to upgrade extant radar altimeters. That declaration precipitated an agreement with AT&T and Verizon that set a July 2023 deadline for radar altimeter upgrades prior to the telecommunications giants powering up their full 5G networks. AT&T and Verizon also implemented various mitigations—such as taking a phased approach to maintain lower power levels near airports and tilting antennas downward—and have agreed to sustain subject mitigations through July 2023.

Agreements and mitigations notwithstanding, COVID-related supply-chain issues have hampered air-carriers’ efforts to upgrade their fleets within the allocated time-frame. Furthermore, entities throughout the aviation industry remain concerned that wireless providers not party to the agreement made by AT&T and Verizon could, at any time, commence full-power 5G operations in the vicinity of airports.

“Stakeholders cannot do this alone and we need the federal government to codify mitigations for all airports and extend the July 2023 and “Power Up” retrofit deadlines,” the letter noted. “The entire government must work together to ensure future 5G deployment is unencumbered and our aviation system remains the safest in the world.”

FMI: www.eaa.org

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