Helicopter Association International Statement on FAA Airworthiness Directives Related to 5G Wireless Interference

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued two airworthiness directives (ADs), one for helicopters and one for airplanes, containing measures that will avoid potential effects on aviation safety equipment that could occur as a result of the Jan. 5, 2022, deployment of 5G technologies in the C-band. These ADs will require flight manual limitations that prohibit certain operations requiring radio (radar) altimeter data at locations that will be specified in future Notices to Air Missions (NOTAMs).

The FAA released a statement stating, “The FAA believes the expansion of 5G and aviation will safely co-exist. Today, we took an important step toward that goal by issuing two airworthiness directives to provide a framework and to gather more information to avoid potential effects on aviation safety equipment. The FAA is working closely with the Federal Communications Commission and wireless companies and has made progress toward safely implementing the 5G expansion. We are confident with ongoing collaboration we will reach this shared goal.”

Helicopter Association International (HAI) appreciates the immense responsibility that FAA bears as it carries out its mission to maintain the safety of the U.S. National Airspace System. We acknowledge the many challenges presented to the agency with respect to the current Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Order on 5G deployment in the C-band. HAI stands ready to work with safety and spectrum regulators, as well as all industry stakeholders, on a viable path forward that includes protections and safety solutions for helicopter operations, both at heliports and at the off-airport locations where our operations routinely occur.

Additionally, HAI and a coalition of organizations representing the world’s leading aerospace manufacturers, airlines, pilots and operators have released a joint statement on the FAA’s ADs, the precautionary measures offered by Verizon Communications and AT&T, and the Aviation Safety Proposal for 5G Limits.

The Aviation Safety Proposal for 5G Limits, which is supported by HAI and several aviation stakeholders, will do much more to provide protections for helicopter operations than what is currently offered by the FCC Order and by the deployment plan proposed by AT&T and Verizon Communications. However, further additional mitigations and alternative solutions will still be necessary to fully address helicopter operations.

HAI is continuing to review the implications of the ADs published on Dec. 7 and will provide its members with additional guidance and resources prior to the Jan. 5, 2022, deployment of 5G in the C-band.