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House Panel Urges FCC to Assess Aviation Safety Risk of 5G Network Deployment

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Leaders of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure have called on the Federal Communications Commission to assess if the telecommunication sector’s plan to use the C-band spectrum for 5G broadband service would pose risks to aviation safety.

In a letter addressed to FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, Reps. Peter DeFazio, chair of the committee, and Rick Larsen, chair of the subcommittee on aviation, urged the FCC to halt the planned use of the C-band spectrum until the Federal Aviation Administration completed its risk assessment.

The FCC should also provide the FAA with technical data necessary to support the assessment of risks presented by 5G network operations in the 3.7 to 4.2 GHz band.

“The FCC’s and the telecom industry’s approach of ‘deploy now, fix later’ is anathema to the strong safety culture we have created and nourished in aviation over the last 20 years. In aviation, we never roll the dice with safety. We never run headlong into a possible hazard to the safety of flight without a full and complete assessment and mitigation of those risks,” the committee leaders wrote.

In early November, the FAA acknowledged in its safety bulletin the concerns from aviation industry experts about the susceptibility of radio altimeters to 5G interference and recommended that aircraft operators inform pilots about any workaround to address in-flight radio altimeter anomalies.