NBAA, Coalition Urge Action to Reduce 5G Effects on Radar Altimeters

NBAA joined with 20 industry groups and aircraft and avionics manufacturers in alerting leaders of the Departments of Transportation and Commerce to “an imminent safety risk facing the U.S. aviation industry and the general public” from the deployment of new 5G cellular systems across the country, while also acknowledging the wider benefits of the advanced communications technology.

Despite appeals from a coalition of industry groups, in December 2020 the Federal Communications Commission auctioned flexible-use overlay licenses for spectrum in the 3.7–3.98 GHz band, also referred to as the C-band. These frequencies, utilized by 5G networks, are adjacent to those used by radar altimeters in commercial aircraft and helicopters, including many business aircraft.

“Radar altimeters are the only device aboard every aircraft that can directly measure the distance between the aircraft and the ground,” the stakeholders wrote in the July 14 letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. The letter continues: “Interference to radar altimeters from 5G signals “can cause lost, inaccurate, or erroneous data from a broad range of avionics, leading even the most well-trained of pilots to take incorrect actions based on hazardously misleading or missing information, which will put the NAS [National Airspace System] and the general public in danger.”


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