The FAA continues its slow march forward in dealing with 5G issues. Last week, the FAA released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to address helicopter radio altimeter interference issues.
Currently, the telecommunications industry has agreed to limit 5G broadcasting and signal strength near sensitive airports to give the FAA and the aviation industry time to work through the interference issues. Those limitations on 5G are set to expire in July 2023. Once this happens, the FAA’s ability to manage the problem with Notices to Air Missions (NOTAMs) and alternative methods of compliance (AMOCs), issued on a case-by-case basis, will not be sustainable.
The proposed rule does not require all helicopters to be retrofitted with new equipment. Rather, it sets out guidelines to determine what types of radio altimeters are sufficiently resistant to interference from 5G signals to permit unrestricted operations. Operators of helicopters that do not meet the standards will have to abide by additional restrictions on where and how they fly in order to mitigate 5G interference.
Helicopter Aviation International (HAI) recently released a statement on the NPRM, noting that:
There needs to be a balancing act between safety and operational impact of regulatory action, as helicopters are essential support in critical industries such as law enforcement, construction, and national security. Therefore, any revisions to the [rules] must be both effective and reasonable. Any undue financial or operational hardships imposed on the helicopter industry could have substantial downstream consequences for the vital industries and emergency response entities we serve.
HAI indicated that it would be submitting formal comments to the NPRM.
Under the Administrative Procedure Act, any federal agency seeking to issue a significant regulation is required to notify the public in advance and seek public comment. The agency is then required to evaluate all of the comments it receives and either modify the proposed rule or provide a reason why the rule will not be modified.
The FAA docket for the NPRM is open for public comments until May 12, 2023, so if you have a viewpoint you want the FAA to consider, go HERE and let the FAA know about it.