Telecom companies, FAA, aviation industry address 5G rollout; HAI urges members to provide public comment on Bay Area ATMP; and more in this week’s update from the HAI Government Affairs team.
Wireless Carriers Delay 5G Rollout
AT&T and Verizon yesterday agreed to postpone their planned Dec. 5 rollout of 5G so that they can work with the FAA and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to address concerns about potential interference with safety-critical aviation systems. Both telecom companies delayed rollout until Jan. 5 following the request of the Department of Transportation. Both AT&T and Verizon stated their willingness to work in good faith with the FAA and FCC to better understand the FAA’s concerns about the coexisting operations of 5G and aviation systems.
HAI looks forward to working with the aviation industry, telecommunications industry, FAA, and FCC to prioritize aviation safety and encourage the safe rollout of 5G technologies.
Submit Regulatory Comments on Bay Area ATMP
The National Park Service (NPS) and the FAA are rewriting the rules and regulations for air tours over national parks. It is clear from the plans already introduced that the NPS aims to cut back flights to such a degree that it would no longer be economically feasible for air tour companies to stay in business.
We need your help submitting public comments to the NPS Bay Area plan, which includes Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Muir Woods National Monument, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, and Point Reyes National Seashore.
You can submit an HAI-endorsed prewritten comment directly to the NPS in three simple steps. Click the link or text COMMENT to 40649 to submit your comments.
An overview of the problems with the NPS air tour management plans (ATMPs) process is available at the comment submission link listed above. For more information on ATMPs, please visit rotor.org/ATMP.
The comment period for the Bay Area ATMP is open until Nov. 15. As additional ATMP plans are rolled out, we will update the templates and reopen them for submission.
Thank you for taking action to defend our valuable air tour industry. HAI appreciates your dedication to the vertical lift community.
FAA Releases SAIB for 5G Interference
The FAA Tuesday released a Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin (SAIB) on the risk of potential adverse effects on radio altimeters from 5G flexible use operations. SAIB AIR-21-18 informs aircraft manufacturers, radio altimeter manufacturers, operators, and pilots of the planned deployment of wireless broadband networks in the 3700–3980 MHz bands, which was previously scheduled to begin on Dec. 5 in the 3700–3800 MHz bands. The SAIB recommends that manufacturers and operators provide information on radio altimeter design and function to federal authorities and requests they test and asses their equipment.
Aviation Community Submits FCC Filing for Needed 5G Parameters
HAI and many associations from the aviation community submitted a written ex parte presentation to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on outstanding 5G operating models and parameters needed to assess aviation safety. The presentation referenced the FAA’s concern for aviation safety in its recently issued SAIB. The aviation community commented on the lack of critical data in the FCC public record needed to make aviation safety decisions. This data gap reinforces the need for direct discussions between the FCC, FAA, 5G interests, and the aviation community. It also has implications for the aviation industry’s ability to develop a new generation of radio altimeters. The aviation community reiterated its previous request to create an interagency group that can address the multitude of questions regarding 5G interference and aviation safety.
HAI expects that SAIB AIR-21-18 is just the beginning of the FAA’s efforts to safeguard the National Airspace System during the deployment of 5G wireless communications. This SAIB covers only the lower frequencies of 5G networks, and HAI anticipates the FAA will continue to address the potential for 5G interference with aviation safety-critical equipment.
Industry Coalition Meets with NEC on 5G
HAI, as part of an industry coalition, met with officials from the White House National Economic Council on Wednesday, Nov. 3, to discuss the safety and economic impacts of the FAA’s cautious approach to aircraft operations adjacent to 5G technologies. The coalition explained the need for urgent action by the FCC and 5G operators to protect aviation and public safety as the rollout of 5G inches closer. HAI specifically illustrated the severe implications on helicopter operations, which rely on radar altimeter systems to conduct missions in a variety of challenging environments. Restrictions placed on helicopter operations would have devastating effects on critical industries such as helicopter air ambulance, oil and gas, firefighting, and utility and power-line work.
HAI co-chairs an industry coalition working group on radar altimeter interference that pursues spectrum solutions to protect the vertical lift industry from harmful interference. HAI will keep members informed of new developments regarding the 5G interference issue as they arise.
HAI Encourages Congress to Increase Funding for Alternative Fuels Program
HAI and several industry associations sent a letter Tuesday to leaders of the House and Senate Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Subcommittees of the Committees on Appropriations. The letter thanked the subcommittees for their leadership in supporting funding of the Alternative Fuels for General Aviation program. This program enables engineering, technical, and management support of fuel research and safety certification activities used to identify, approve, and deploy unleaded aviation gas consistent with aviation safety. Recent developments in fuel testing highlight the need to increase the proposed budget request of $4.96 million. The associations requested that the final conference agreement for the fuels testing program contain a funding level of $10 million.
AAM Coordination and Leadership Act Advances in House
The House version of the Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) Coordination and Leadership Act (H.R. 1339) was passed in the House yesterday, Nov. 4, by a two-thirds majority vote. The bipartisan bill establishes an AAM interagency working group that coordinates with industry professionals to develop recommendations that support the evolution of AAM technologies. These recommendations will provide a framework to bring early AAM to higher levels of activity and societal benefit. The working group will also develop a comprehensive plan detailing the roles and responsibilities of each federal department and agency for implementing each entity’s recommendations. HAI supports the legislation and is committed to investing in efforts necessary to grow the AAM ecosystem in the United States.
Sen. Warnock Introduces AERO Act
HAI thanks Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) for introducing the Aviation Emissions Reduction Opportunity (AERO) Act on Monday, Nov. 1. The bill establishes an alternative-fuel and low-emissions aviation technology program. The legislation restores $200 million in program funding for each fiscal year from 2022 through 2026, for a total of $1 billion in funding over a five-year period. This amount will cover $700 million for sustainable aviation fuel and $300 million for low-emissions aviation technologies.
Senate Committee Holds Aviation Safety Reform Hearing
The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing on Wednesday, Nov. 3, titled “Implementation of Aviation Safety Reform.” The hearing examined the urgency of implementing aviation safety, certification, and oversight reforms as outlined in the Aircraft Certification, Safety, and Accountability Act (ACSAA) of 2020. Committee members discussed the FAA’s progress on implementing the legislation accordingly. FAA Administrator Steve Dickson served as a witness.