RAA Statement on Limited 5G Interference Mitigation

Washington, DC, January 8, 2022. Media contact: media@raa.org

Regional Airline Association (RAA) President and CEO Faye Malarkey Black today issued the following statement in response to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announcement of 50 “priority” airports receiving mitigations in advance of the anticipated 5G rollout on January 19. 

RAA has been a long-time participant and supporter of cooperative industry efforts on the matter of safe integration of 5G in the United States and engaged alongside industry peers in letters, meetings, petitions, and information sharing. We believed the objective was to protect safe and reliable air service for all passengers, no matter which airport they travel to. At the 11th hour, RAA learned that a compromise intended to lessen the propensity of signal interference disruptions to air service within the National Airspace System (NAS) was inexplicably limited to just 50 airports, mostly large hubs. Additional impacted airports – including many served exclusively or primarily by regional airlines – were excluded. As a result, those airports will be left vulnerable to sweeping operational impacts during periods of low visibility once 5G is turned on January 19. The FAA has noted that, even for the 50 airports with mitigations, special directives to aircraft operators must be issued to ensure safety.

As the specifics of this deal were discussed, regional airline voices were not initially included. This is unfortunate, given regional airlines provide the sole source of air service to 66% of the nation’s airports. If the selection of 50 larger airports for special mitigations hinged on fewer passengers being impacted, RAA asks the FAA, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and telecom giants to bear in mind that delays and cancelations do not happen to individual passengers in the aggregate and small-town travelers deserve reliable air service as much as those traveling between urban centers.

RAA urges the Federal Aviation Administration to fulfill its obligation to all passengers by expanding the list, rather than advantaging airports “on the list” over many others. To do otherwise invites the damaging optic of a two-tiered system where disenfranchised smaller communities are once again reminded of their “value” in the NAS. Likewise, RAA urges the FCC to work with their regulated parties to prevent signal interference to vital, small-town air service. Hard as it may be to reopen dialogue, it is critical that we do so. RAA stands ready to support further dialogue.

About RAA  

The Regional Airline Association (RAA) provides a unified voice of advocacy for North American regional airlines aimed at promoting a safe, reliable and strong regional airline industry. RAA serves as an important support network connecting regional airlines and industry business partners. In the United States, regional airlines operate 43% of scheduled passenger flights and provide the only source of scheduled air service to 66% of the nation’s airports. Regional airlines provide 75% or more of the air service in Alabama (81%), Alaska (87%), Arkansas (85%), Iowa (81%), Kansas (80%), Kentucky (76%), Maine (87%), Mississippi (94%), Montana (79%), North Dakota (87%), South Dakota (86%), Vermont (92%), West Virginia (92%). Regional airlines provide half or more of the air service in Idaho (74%), Illinois (54%), Indiana (59%), Michigan (60%), Minnesota (51%), Nebraska (65%), New Hampshire (73%), New Mexico (59%), North Carolina (56%), Ohio (56%), Oklahoma (55%), Oregon (62%), Pennsylvania (58%), Puerto Rico (71%), South Carolina (61%), Virginia (57%), Wisconsin (67%), and Wyoming (68%).