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tv   FAA Administrator Testifies on 5G Aviation Safety  CSPAN  February 17, 2022 4:43am-6:56am EST

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near airports interfering with airplane landing systems. -- faa administrator stephen di cksen.
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>> call the meeting of the house subcommittee on aviation to order. i ask unanimous consent that the chair be authorized to declare resource at any -- recessed at any time during today's hearing. i also ask unanimous consent that members not on the committee be permitted to sit with the committee and ask questions. as a reminder, please keep your microphone muted unless speaking so as to limit any background noise. i request the members mute their microphones, and i will not say please, despite the instructions, to insert a document into the record, please have your staff email it to
4:45 am good morning and welcome to today's aviation subcommittee hearing. on january 20 4, 25, and 26, alaska airlines over 50 flights on my hometown. was it the thicker than usual 24-hour fog? no, planes fly in worse. was it the radio altimeter? also no, planes fly with radio altimeter's the time. if the presence of a radio tower with a soon to be activated 5g transmitter? no, not just that. unfortunately, the problem was all of those things coming together in a perfect storm of technology. this true story shows that the
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problem we are addressing today has more layers than a wooden sandwich. what we do when faced with a problem like this? we break it into pan focus on price -- basic principle, and our basic principle in this subcommittee is aviation safety. how to assure that 5g and aviation safety can coexist, in the words of several of our witnesses. what i hope emerges from this hearing is that the subcommittee has a firm grasp of what the telecommute occasion and aviation industry, the faa, and ndaa and others can do to avoid future 5g conflicts and proactively address these conflicts. in preparation for today's hearing, here is what i have
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concluded -- that the aviation industry has expressed concerns as far back as 2015 at the world radio conference. i also found out there is actually something called the world radio conference. i also found out the federal agency responsible for recording inspection policies failed to communicate the faa's concerns to the formalized process. i found telecom engineers and aerospace engineers have the name engineers in common but beyond that, they speak different engineering languages when they speak to each other and when they speak to each other at all. i understand that is changing as well, and that is a positive outcome. i found that the industries -- aviation and telecom -- have misaligned cultures on the issue with telecom being about clearer and faster communications as its
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selling point, and aviation has aviation safety as its selling point. this is what gives the public confidence in flying. i also found out that this is not a federal government only problem. it is also an industry problem. so what can we do to help aviation safety and 5g coexist? i think there is an imperative here. there will be a continued rollout on the spectrum. there's the potential for future options as well, and then there is six g coming down, and it means different things to different people, and we do not know what it means to aviation safety, and we need to begin to understand that. i think we need to establish an
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informal tour more formalized communication between the faa and fcc moving forward as well so that hopefully we do not have to have another hearing like this. i would like to think that perhaps informed policy, what they call a track to dialogue, can be convened, which is an informal, nongovernmental discussion, in this case on 5g, on radio altimeters, on next steps, that can be used to inform more formal mechanisms. first sort these things out informally and then inform the formal mechanisms. i certainly look forward to other ideas we will hear from our witnesses today, and as we move forward, maybe we can get this deadwood sandwich down to bite-size chunks moving forward. with that, i yield the bottle -- the balance of my time and recognize represented rates from louisiana for an opening statement. representative graves: thank
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you, mr. chairman. i appreciate you having this hearing. mr. chairman, the united states has the safest aviation industry in the world. it is the safest way to travel. we are the gold standard in regards to safety and innovation . we also -- i believe i can speak for everyone on this panel -- republicans, democrats, everyone supports the deployment of 5g and trying to help to bridge the digital divide. i don't think there is anyone here that would stand in front of the aviation safety and block efforts to advance and i don't think there is anyone here that would block efforts to improve technology communication and again, to help to bridge the digital divide. yet, if we look at what has happened and found ourselves in this absolutely ridiculous, inexcusable situation after knowing for years that there were challenges here, that there
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were issues here, and find ourselves in a situation where at the very last minute, there were claims, cries, demands, what have you, to delay deployment and something that was entirely preventable, something that the chair noted, issues that had been raised not months before but years and years before, and we found ourselves in the situation -- there is something called parkinson's law which says you use every bit of time available to you to accomplish a task. in this case, we did not even do that. we saw two very capable agencies sit here and play chicken with one another or whatever ridiculousness happen, and we end up threatening aviation safety. we had flights canceled. let me tell you something -- tim clark, the ceo of emirates, the airline, said, "this was one of the most delinquent, utterly
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irresponsible instances" he has seemed on -- he has seen in his aviation career. this is the ceo of an airline. there is no excuse for us to be in this situation. this is what you would expect from some other country without the governance structure, without the strong civil support structure that we have in the united states. it is embarrassing, and i will say it again -- it is ridiculous and inexcusable. the traveling public expects that airlines are going to be safe. we already have enough uncertainty related to schedules and weather and other things that we don't need to create your own problems further disrupting or creating uncertainty in airline travel. this committee takes aviation safety incredibly seriously as you have seen from what we have primarily focused on over the
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last three years. so how do you balance this issue of aviation safety and deployment of 5g steve bannon to make sure you can continue to have altimeters that work, can continue to have aviation safety, and can continue to deploy this technology to improve communication? the first step is leadership. it is leadership, and it is fundamental changes. most of the time, i think the agencies sit there and wait for people to come to them, and in this case, we saw agencies sitting there waiting in many cases, and it simply did not work. it caused the problems we are facing today. i think we can partially blame the clash of cultures at the agencies with very different missions. the communications regulator, the fcc is searching for evidence that there's problems
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without tenders in 5g interference and the faa is searching for proof that there are none -- the fcc is searching for evidence that there are problems with altimeters. completely different approaches. we have temporary expansion mediation measures and bending. we are still in the middle of a big mess. there is an awful lot of work to be done by all parties as we move forward. administrator, i want to thank you and your team for working through the holidays diligently and over the past month to keep aviation systems safe and operating while the significant rollout of 5g c -band across the country has occurred, and i know we have asked a lot of your team and i know we will be asking a lot more over the next months. we need a lot of work in terms
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of the alternative, i guess, approved in order to allow aviation safety to continue. we need that work to expedite the development and publication of new radio altimeters standards and -- in aviation to move forward. i look forward to hearing from the witnesses today, and i want to say again, i'm glad everyone is working well together now. it should not have taken this long, and i think the white house and others should have stepped in well before we reached the level of chaos. mr. chairman, thanks again for having the hearing, and i look forward to hearing from our witness. c-band --chair larsen: thank you. the represented of from oregon is recognized. >> thank you. we see and extort an early -- an extraordinary lack of
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communication between the fcc and faa, and of course, the m tia -- the ntia is supposed to intervene in these things, but they just received their first permanent head since the beginning of the trump administration. hopefully, the new head will be able to put them in the right place of coordinating as we move forward because we are not done with this yet. we have temporary measures in place. there will be more towers put out there that the companies consider their towers, their height, their strength to be proprietary data. it cannot be proprietary data. you cannot just plop one down next to a critical approach into an airport, but that was what was going on, and the industry
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refused to share that data even though there was a very specific request made by the faa on november 2, and finally, on december 22, they began to release data on where their secret towers were, what their powers were, where the antennas were pointed, and that's when we began to realize this was going to be a big problem. in fact, for the first two days, they said, "oh, well, you cannot give this data to anybody. you cannot share it. this is secret." finally, the lawyers worked it out and the faa could work with the manufacturers and airlines, and the airports have not really been particularly well-informed throughout this whole process, and there is just phenomenal room for improvement. there needs to be a formalized process. memorandums of understanding
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between affected agencies, you know, dealing with the fcc. this is not the first instance the fcc decided to sell off half of the vehicle to vehicle safety band -- we are moving to automated vehicles, and we are trying to develop things -- crash avoidance vehicle communication -- and they say it is much more important that people can screen high v while walking down the street on their self own, so they sold off half of that spectrum. they are being litigated, and, hopefully, they will lose, and we will preserve that for the future of automobile safety. they also disregarded the concerns of the department of defense on letting legato turn on satellites with potential degradation of gps. it is a pattern of ignoring consequences beyond the consequences to the profitability of the telecom industry.
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that is their opening focus. telecom wants this. they need this. they got to have this. that's got to change. hopefully, the and tia can negotiate this. or maybe you are going to meaning we cooperate with these agencies. you are going to take your sort of regulative -- we don't really regulate telecoms anymore. that's why we have the crappy us to -- the crappiest cell phone service in the world, but your regulatory entities are going to communicate things to us, to the affected parties that will affect their industry. i mean, that only makes sense. it is so disappointing, and we are going to hear from a witness today says we have much greater safeguards than rants now. oh, not true. but so say they are operating at
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much higher power in france. no, to an a half times higher here. the antenna angles are mandated to be tilted down in france, and they have exclusions -- the list goes on around the country, around the world. they say it is safe elsewhere. well, everyone else has taken measures to protect aviation, but we did not until the last minute, and it is a temporary agreement and something has to be worked out long term in the next six months as they deploy more of these towers. there has to be some restriction an agreement because we cannot have conflicting industries. having a dropped call is way less serious than having a dropped airplane out of the sky. thank you, mr. chairman. chair larsen: thank you the
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chair represent -- recognizes the representative from missouri. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, member graves, for having this hearing, and i also want to thank witness is on both panels for being here. it is no secret our nation continues to grapple with one crisis after the next. thankfully, we are here to talk about one crisis that was narrowly averted, at least for the time being. i want to commend the aviation and telecom industries for their collaborative efforts to ensure that aviation safety and 5g deployment can safely coexist. it goes without saying that alarmist headlines, especially those about complex avionics systems lead to unhelpful finger-pointing and distract from serious and technical efforts that produce some lasting solutions. regrettably, many of these headlines are byproducts of a
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botched government coordination process, even though the issues have been raised publicly now for years. the american people would have been better served had government acted much sooner than it did in bringing together the experts at faa and the fcc and related industries to address the issues at hand, but here we are now, and i know that members on both sides of the aisle are eager to hear what is going to happen in the short term, the medium-term, and the long-term to fully and permanently resolve any issues with attentional 5g interference with radio altimeters. aviation safety is the number one priority of this committee and the faa, and that safety can only be achieved when we are not lurching on one deadline to another. safety also requires certainty, and that is sorely lacking right now from both air carriers and wireless carriers. this topic is an issue of
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immense economic significance to both telecommunications and aviation industries, and it is crucial that all parties under the most recent agreement use this time to work together to devise and implement a permanent solution. that facilitates that 5g rollout -- and we have to ensure aviation safety that works for all of the users of the system, if they are major air carriers, regional airlines, helicopters, or general aviation operators. that is the balance we have to strike, and again, mr. chairman, i'm not going to pile on anymore. i think we have made our point, all of us, so i look forward to hearing the witnesses and what they have to say and how we are going to move forward. thank you again, mr. chairman. chair larsen: thank you,
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representative graves. for the members, there is no plan for votes on the floor until about 4:15. there is a 1:30 p.m. bipartisan classified briefing in the house . the floor will go into recess at one: 30 p.m. it does not impact us, but just for your landing purposes, there will not be any need for us to break as a subcommittee, but at 1:30, there is a classified briefing on the russia-ukraine issue, but the floor does not plan to vote until about 4:15. but just for planning purposes. that should give us freedom to get through this, but folks may want to go to the briefing as well. we will now turn to witnesses. we will be holding two panels today with each panel followed by questions from members. i would now like to welcome our first panel, which consists of
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one person, the honorable steve dickson. thank you for joining us today. we look forward to your testimony. without objection, your full statement to be entered into the record. since it is part of the record, the subcommittee requests you limit your oral testimony to five minutes. you may proceed. mr. dickson: thank you, chair larsen. good morning, chair larsen, chair defazio, ranking members graves and graves. thank you for your efforts to keep aviation safe in the rollout of 5g c-band technology. we have continually maintained that 5g and c-band technology can coexist. we have the safest aviation in the world and we do not take that for granted. it is something hard earned every day. we have achieved this because we
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take actions to mitigate known and potential risks to safety. that's why the faa has been involved in a sustained effort since well before the 2020 spectrum auction to highlight and now mitigate potential 5g interference with critical flight systems. i want to thank this committee for its support of aviation safety during this period. our job would be significantly more difficult without the continued support of this committee. we also appreciate the wireless companies voluntarily providing us with the data we need to maintain safety while minimizing flight disruptions during this rollout. we are always concerned about radiofrequency interference when it comes to aviation disruption, but in 2018, a new potential threat emerged. the mobile now act directed the fcc to evaluate the feasibility of auctioning spectrum that is adjacent to the and where radio altimeters operate.
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the faa and aviation industry urge caution. boeing and the airline pilots association in filings for the -- in filings with the fcc called for more research into the issue. the faa collaborated with research issues that reveal that 5g operations could significantly degrade or interrupt radio altimeter operation during critical flight -- critical phases of flight. the acting secretary and i sent a letter to the ntia outlining our concerns about aviation safety backed up by the recent studies. we ask that the auction be delayed so we could conduct a safety risk assessments and identify potential issues. ultimately, the auction occurred, and initial deployment of 5g was scheduled for early december 2021. we engage with partners
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throughout the year in an effort to access the information that was necessary to inform aviation safety mitigations. ultimately, as the deployment approached in late 2021, sec. buttigieg and i requested two pauses from the wireless companies until mid-january 2022. during the delay, we established a direct relationship with wireless companies to receive the necessary information -- transmitter locations, power levels, and signature shape characteristics -- to begin making and aviation safety assessment. the wireless companies also agreed to keep towers turned off around airports that have low visibility approaches. the safety model that we developed, along with the new data we had access to from the telecommunications companies, allowed the faa to determine which combination of altimeters and aircraft could be cleared to land in low visibility conditions for specific runways
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and airports with 5g towers nearby. wireless companies activated 5g band service in many of the 46 markets in 2019. our analysis of data has allowed us to target and anticipate problem areas precisely, reducing the impact. while we have prevented significant disruption to commercial aviation, we recognize some communities and operations have been affected because we have not been able to fully mitigate interference risk for certain radio altimeters. we know from long experience that early and open data exchange between everyone -- stakeholders and regulators -- has proven to be critical to identify and mitigate safety risks. aviation remains the safest form of transportation because of our commitment to being data-driven in our processes, and we will lean on it as we set new
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standards for altimeter performance in the new environment created by the 5g c-band deployment. spectrum is a limited resource, but the demand is essentially infinite, and we know it will increase in coming years. the faa's primary concern is and always will be the safety of the aviation administration, but we firmly believe that working together, 5g and aviation can and will safely coexist. moving forward, we are also ready to work across industry and with federal partners on a more thoughtful, inclusive, and collaborative approach to future spectrum policy and initiatives. thank you very much for the chance to provide this update. i look forward to answering your questions. chair larsen: thank you, administrator dickson. mr. defazio, you are recognized. representative defazio: thank you, mr. chairman. thanks, mr. dickson, for being
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with us today. as we said, we understand what happened and want to be certain it does not happen again, but we are in sort of a temporary hold here. it is not totally clear to me and, i think, others what happens at the end of the six months voluntary period. i have had some say it is not limited to six months and others saying yes, it is. for instance, where they have turned off towers in proximity to airports with cap three approaches and low visibility issues -- i mean, how is this going to be solved long term, and how long do the temporary measures stay in place and what do we do internally? mr. dickson: all parties are
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working together very effectively and we agreed to take all steps that -- agreed to take all steps necessary -- to work in good faith to determine the next steps. so far the telecom companies, as i mentioned have agreed to refrain from activating their 5g towers that are on excessively close to runways, which we continue to revise. they are also providing us with more data in a timely fashion to provide certainty and more predictability to the aviation system and also developed provide our safety analysis. and working with us, as i speak, actually, on a flight test program that will contribute meaningfully to establishing the new standards for radio altimeters and also to refine what we are doing right now. i am cursed by the progress. -- i am encouraged by the progress. we are in a much better place today than we were two to three
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weeks ago. and we certainly do not want to be repeating these deadlines that we have had to overcome. we're finally getting the specific detailed information that we need to make accurate safety assessments, and that is what we are focused on. and the wireless companies, again, i think they have learned a lot about aviation safety and we've certainly learned about their business. we are asking them for data they have never had to provide to the government before. so, that has been beneficial to both sides and we will continue that dialogue. >> we have two sets of engineers with different languages and i'm glad to hear now communicating and understanding some of the concerns. we're going to hear from an industry representative, an organization that says safe everywhere else in the world and we are taking stronger measures than any other country in the world, things that haven't been
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done elsewhere but i have seen very specific data that isn't true. can you address that? other countries have taken measures for exclusion zone, intended direction and other things. is that correct? many other countries. mr. dickson: that's correct. but there really is no comparison with either the aviation system or what is going on in the united states with 5g deployment. our environment is not the same in either case. the power levels of other countries are different. the location on the spectrum is different. and again, we have the most complex and dynamic air space in the world. so, you know, and also, i think it is important to remember that we're regulating the manufacturers as well. so, to some degreed, many countries around the world, their aviation safety regulators
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have a reduced scope of responsibility compared to the faa. so, we have got to make sure if a hazard is identified that we prove that hazard is has been mitigated from a safety perspective and to that end laboratory testing did show that there was a hazard from 5g c-band interference and we have to prove again to ourselves that there is no hazard. >> ok. thank you. i've run out of time but i assume we will be looking at perhaps a new generation of altimeters or some sort of filtration or something. i'm very concerned about the ongoing appointment and the ongoing protections that we put in place. i'm please-- pleased the industry is cooperating and hopefully we can work this out together. thank you, mr. chairman. >> the representative graves
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from louisiana for five minutes. rep. graves: thank you very much for your testimony today. i heard your answer to the chair about the u.s. system being more complex. i get it. but i also think that we have greater capability. i'm going to say it again. it is inexcusable to disrupt air operations and i think it is inexcusable to prevent the deploying of technology. can you just help us to understand with the incredible, pardon the pun, runway we had in this instance, knowing for years that wasn't as good as the sandwich -- not even close but just help me understand, how did we get ourselves in this situation? mr. dickson: well, two parts. i'll try to answer both parts of your question. ranking member graves.
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as was noted in some of the opening remarks, the aviation sector concerns dated back to 2015. i will provide a detailed chronology and go through all of those details here but over a period of years, the faa participated in testing. we connected with authorities including iko and communicated our concerns clearly to the fcc. we also have, back to chair defazio's point, special committee 239 formed in early 2020 to develop permanent radio altimeter standards and began network later in the year. and that work continues to this day. when the fcc released the rno on c-band in march of 2020, we asked for the analysis that supported the conclusion that the limits that were being put in place were sufficient to protect aeronautical services, altimeters in particular, but it
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was not until the summer of 2021 that we received that analysis, and it actually resulted in transmission limits and characteristics that indicated the rno values are not sufficient to protect radio altimeters. as i said a few minutes ago, you know, we tried for over a year and we were asking for this data. as it turns out, the fcc did not even have the data that we needed. and we discovered that when we started towards -- to work directly with the telecommunications companies. they had never had to provide this kind of information to the government before. they have never had to think about how to signal what impact an airplane moving in three dimensions through space. and so, it's certainly my hope, and i think all of us recognize that the process did not serve anyone well in this particular case. and so, it is in everyone's
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interests to examine the federal spectrum process to ensure it's coordinated across executive branch agencies to ensure that we resolve issues sooner rather than later. >> administrator, i am concerned about even during this interim time, do you believe the faa has the bandwidth, has the capability to process the alternative -- between now and july? mr. dickson: it's a huge focus for us. and all of the out -- all of the submissions that we have had, i am not aware that we have any pending submissions, but right now, in fact, we are meeting with the manufacturers on a daily basis really to refine their analysis as they discover more about the capabilities of the systems that are partly installed on aircraft. >> going back to your comment about the timeline and information that would be helpful if you could provide us with that. i would like to better
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understand the timeline and how we ran into this problem. now, look, it is no secret we will have6g, 7g in addition to the immediate issue we have between now and july of trying to resolve this, can you one, help us understand if you believe the faa has the resources, the capability it needs to to continue this process through july and beyond, as we have new technology roll out and new capabilities within communications? can you give us some comfort or help identify resources you think of faa may need to ensure this does not happen again? mr. dickson: we are using not only internal agency resources but also industry resources as well. and i think that, now that we are past the initial deployment, we have asked the telecommunications companies for longer line of sight on their deployments. and this is one of the
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differences between the aviation industry and the telecommunications industry. they are not used to the precision that we need to have when we are rolling out new technologies. if you think about air traffic control. when we make improvements to technology within our air traffic control facilities around the country, we have a very disciplined technology waterfall, training, change management, both inside and outside the agency as a data committee case and send capabilities are rolled out. that happens over a period of years. and, because we are literally, we are not changing the tires of the cars going down the road, we are changing the oil on the engines as the airplanes fly. we operate in three dimensions. the telecommunications companies customers around the ground. so, they have never had to think about how those signals impact airplanes moving in three dimensional space. >> thank you.
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i appreciated, you'll back. >> thank you. recognize yourself or five minutes. mr. administrator, some questions. in testimony we will hear later from -- the name pronounced correctly -- he talks about the unfortunate truth is that this is a real problem. it is what can be described as -- a problem old that only occurs in nine usual circumstances and for very limited number of aircraft. does the term edge case exist in aviation testing, and is -- if there is an edge case, allowed to exist in aviation scenario? mr. dickson: no. we have to, as i said earlier, we have our commercial aviation system essentially engineered so that there's less than one in a billion chance of a catastrophic failure. and so, anytime there is any
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change in that system that creates additional risk, we have to prove to ourselves that it's safe. so, it is not enough to be comfortable, or to have low risk activities. you know, i think that in chair -- the chair's written statement he talked about the 727 max. that is a good example of people thought of low risk. we cannot accept that. the traveling public does not accept it and we certainly do not accept it at the faa. we've worked for decades to make sure that aviation safety risk is driven down to the levels that it is today. >> i'll even say that in the 737 max case many people thought that was an implausible scenario. clearly, it was not and we cannot tolerate that at all. i want to ask a bit more about mr. graves' comments and the
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chair's comments regarding amoc 's. alternative means of compliance. it is basically an exemption what you otherwise could not do. it allows you to do the thing you want to do. in this case, fly, and airplane, land in airplane in the presence ofa 5g signal. so, the faa has been issuing these amoc's, essentially exemptions to the rule. but there are so many amoc's you have issued from faa with regards to this, the rule, sorry the exception is becoming the rule. but i don't think that is a very good way to run a national airspace system. we have to get back to a point where the exception is actually the rule as opposed to, sorry, the exception is an exception to the rule as opposed to the rule being the exception. so, administrator, what are you all doing to be sure these
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amoc's go away and we get back to a national airspace system that can be run safely and efficiently without all of these amoc's. mr. dickson: it is a great question. i would divided intto two parts. the first one is what are we going to do to provide more predictability and certainty to all of our stakeholders around the system? and we have been working on the problem. there has been a sense of urgency around that. but we are getting up on a case of we have asked the telecommunications companies for longer line of sight of their deployment so we are not within the week of the next transient towers having to put this relief out on short notice. i'm confident in the coming weeks we will get on e amore regular case, and hopefully reduce the impact as we go forward. but also working to refine her
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safety model, which will help us as we recognize areas where risk may be acceptable. we're not yet looking at can we refine power levels? so, there are several levers here that we are looking at in terms of aviation -- that can provide some relief. the ultimate solution, i think you will hear something about this from the second panel later, is the setting of new performance standards and air -- standards. that work is underway and special -- 239. i think that unfortunately a lot of people around the industry who would be working on that effort, which is really the long-term solution, are involved in getting us through this period right now. but what we think that is going to happen, once these new standards are set, then there will be new performance standards and new designs,
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potentially stc's for filtering devices and other things. there are some promising discussions we are having with some manufacturers about being able to improve the performance of existing equip and that is out there. we'll continue to focus on that as an interim solution while we work towards a long-term. >> there is going to be a lot of technical detail that we, as i 've talked in the past, we don't need to understand everything about this as members of congress, but we do need to understand enough of this so that we can inform the policy. as you all move through this, we need to be sure that we move through this with you. you've also outlined the fact that, just within the c-band, there is still more to happen. as a result of the c-band auction, including3.8 to 3.98 rollout. there are auctions in the future, certainly.
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and the technology of communication is changing and the discussion about 6g is an example of that. we don't know right today what that means for the work of the faa as well. is that a fair assessment? mr. dickson: i think that is definitely fair. and there, are other executive branch agenciesdod in particular, that have some equities in this area. with future auctions that are being contemplated. so we need to address the process issuenow as a country, i would be 100% agreement with that. >> i'll turn it over, looking for ideas about how we can either see that is formalized or at least an informal consultation process going forward better than what we have had. with that i do have next, representative -- from ohio is next up for five minutes.
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>> mr. chairman, thank you very much. good morning, everyone. thanks for taking time to come before this committee. my first question is the deployment of 5g is critical to americans' competitiveness and it is critical we get these networks online as quickly as possible while minimizing any disruptions to aviation services and ensuring safe air travel. my question for you is how did the faa make the determination that 5g would ensure harmful interference and did the faa perform any testing to validate the concerns in the rtca study? mr. dickson: thank you for the question. as i mentioned, we had indicated our concerns with the c-band spectrum back in 2015 at the radio conference that chair larson referred to in his remarks.
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we also participated in avsi testing as well as the rtca testing as well. we communicated our concerns to the fcc, as all of this was happening through ntia, and we worked in good faith through the interagency process. when i asked for the delay of the auction, along with the department of transportation, we asked that our concerns be forw arded on to the fcc. and, unfortunately, that did not happen. but we have been consistent in raising our concerns, and i know that there is a way to work together through this. as i said earlier, the two industries look at risk very differently. and processes very differently. but, and we don't regulate the telecommute occasions industry. so, there was no way for us to access their data until we had the agreements in place with
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them in late december. and now in that relatively short span of time, we have been able to make a lot of progress. in the future, we need to have processes in place that allow that to take place before the actual rollout. i think we will be in much better shape. >> thank you very much. my follow-up. what specific measures or mitigations has the faa -- is the faa looking for from the wireless industry to make it possible to deploy 5g networks, c-band around airports within the terms of their fcc licenses as soon as possible? mr. dickson: as i said, we have already, we have refined our safety model which creates essentially a safety zone and a performance buffer for radio -- radio altimeter around
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airports. the flight testing -- we are doing that with - in conjunction with flight test scenarios using faa flight test aircraft. those flights in conjunction with the telecommunications industry engineers. as a matter of fact, their engineers are actually on board faa aircraft and reporting all of the parameters of what the signal looks like as it impacts the airplane in various scenarios. as we get that data, that will help us to sharpen our analysis. it'll also inform the performance requirements for modified, modifications to radio altimeters or the new performance standards for retrofitted equipment if it becomes necessary. >> thank you very much for both of those answers. mr. chairman, i yield back. thank you very much. >> thank you for yielding back a minute and 10 seconds. now recognize the gentleman from hawaii.
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you are recognized for five minutes. >> thank you so much for putting on this really important committee. hello to chair larson and ranking member graves -- for convening this could go hearing so that we can ensure that we put -- conduct proper oversight. as a pilot i understand firsthand the importance that radio altimeters place -- to fly an all weather conditions. the aviation industry has spent years warning that 5g signals could cause radio equipment interference with altimeters and i am disheartened that it has come to this point. there was clearly a breakdown in interagency communications. that the chair highlighted, the failure of the trump administration to speak with the right people in the right positions to ensure that this didn't happen. it did. as a result, it disrupted
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millions of passengers and our communities, especially our airlines. i have a question for administrator dickson. the first course and i have is, and i can only speak to the airlines i worked for, hawaiian airlines amoc's expire on 28 february, 2022, in 25 days. i don't know what the other expiration dates for all the u.s. airlines and the locations that they fly through, when their amoc's expire. i can only speak to hawaii's flagship airlines that expire on the 25th, 2022. the about of workload that pilots have to deal with, that the airlines, the dispatchers have to deal with. they are already stressed in dealing with covid. and now they have to deal with potential disruptions in their instrument approaches, for cap 3
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runways. so, my question is, what is the plan between now and the next 25 days? are we going to extend those am oc's again? are we going to get right up to the 24, 23rd of february and potentially have another disruptive day throughout our nations airspace system? what are we doing to plan between now and the next 25 days for not just these airlines, current amoc's, but the other u.s. domestic amoc's that potentially have expiration dates in the near future? mr. dickson: congressman, thank you very much for the question, because, as you point out very correctly, predict ability and consistency is extremely important in our business. i'm an operator myself. i know exactly what you are talking about. the last thing that you want
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is uncertainty on the flight deck or the dispatch desk. the reason that the amoc's expire is based on the next traunche that we expect from the telecommunications companies. and their ability to be able to provide us with the precise latitude and longitude, elevation, signal shape, all of the things i talked about earlier so that we can apply that. we have a tool that we have developed in the last few weeks that allows us to take their data, and this is getting to be more and more of a routine occurrence, we take their data. we put it into the tool and determine where the pressure points are, and whether the next deployment will comport with our safety model around airports to ensure safe performance for radio altimeters. that process -- has been,
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because the initial deployment happened on the 19 january, then there was another trench before february, there was a rapid succession of amoc's. we expect for that, that cadence to be longer as we go forward. we have asked for as much forward visibility as we possibly can, and this gets into the difference i talked about a minute ago between the two industries about how new technologies are rolled out. telco's are experiencing delays with work crews and things like that. we're learning a lot about their business, and i promise you we're going to smooth this process out and make it more productive both, because that is in everyone's best interests. and they have committed to work with us on that. >> my last 20 seconds, yes or no answer. can you assure our operators out of flight deck and the passengers in the back, these critical airports that require cap 3-approaches, that these
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airports are safe to fly into and execute a successful approach with the current amoc's that exist today? mr. dickson: absolutely. safety is something we will not compromise. if we authorize -- visibility up -- operations you can counter the performance of the systems that we have always counted on. >> thank you, sir. i yield back. chair larson: chair recognizes the representative for tennessee for five minutes. >> thank you. it is a pleasure to follow by ukulele playing colored from hawaii. maybe we can organize -- something over there. that would be good. chair larson: we didn't start the clock. can you take 10 seconds off? [laughter] i'm sure that will make you -- >> thank you, mr. chairman. this is for faa administrator
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dickson. sir, the aviation industry's concerns about harmful 5g c-band interference aren't new. i realize this was touched on earlier but i want to get more specific. as you pointed out in your testimony, you raised some of these concerns yourself in a letter to the national tele-communications information administration in 2020, i believe. so why did the faa wait until it's almost too late, until the month before the originally scheduled rollout to start taking safety mitigation actions? mr. dickson: well, thank you for the question. if you're talking about the last few weeks, again, we did not have the data that we needed because we don't regulate the tele-communication companies, we did not have the data we needed until we were able to work with them directly. as we discovered, when we began
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that dialogue, the data that we were asking for from them, they actually had never provided to the government before. so, that really was where we started from in late december and early january. that brought us to where we are now. >> so, the information that you got, they'd never delivered, but was, is that the reason why it got to you so late or was that just after the fact? mr. dickson: that's certainly once we got, we had asked for the delay because we did not want disruptions to the aviation system. we knew that there was risk to radio altimeters but we did not have the ability to put specific mitigations in place and tailor them by fleet type and by airport until we had the specific deployment data from the telecommute occasion's
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companies. otherwise, we are in a position where we have to assume that 5g c-band is blanketing the entire country. you are in the least common denominator situation. that is where we were in november and where, we're certainly in a much better place now than we were back then. we have got a lot of work in front of us as i have been saying. >> where are we now in relation to preparedness, as in relation to november? mr. dickson: well, we're, we have the mainline fleet types, the larger aircraft, we still have some lower performing regional jets and other parts of the aviation community that are impacted. i am concerned about that. helicopters are another area that we will have to pay close attention to, so we are working on alternate means of compliance for those types of operations for first responders and air
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ambulance operations as well. a lot of the conversation has been about the air carriers, but the entire aviation community, we need to make sure that their concerns are addressed as well. fortunately for those other types of operations, there is not that kind of reliance on radio altimeters that you see in commercial aviation, but it is an important safety tool that we want them to have. >> you all have some date, arbitrary or otherwise, of compliance? mr. dickson: we will have to, the performance standards for c-band resistant radio altimeters are in development now. that work has been going on for some months now. it will be sometime, the standard-setting -- these
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standard-setting processes take time, i think the encouraging news to me is that the flight test activity that we are undertaking that is helping us get through the period we're currently in will also be very beneficial in setting new standards because we will have real-world data that we can use to go back to the avionics manufacturers and help inform those new designs. but there will probably be some airplanes that -- will have to retrofit new equipment. at a minimum, i think we will see significant retrofit of filtering devices to make sure the existing avionics are c-band resistant. >> i can hear my father say going down the road and our old station wagon in the 1970's when we were fussing in the backseat, my brother and sister and, i, was all their fault, not mine, i was the peacekeeper but i could hear my dad saying, "don't make
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me come back there." i hope you all fix this up and don't make us come back here. thank you, mr. chairman. >> the chair recognizes representative johnson of georgia for five minutes. rep. johnson: thank you, mr. chairman for holding this very important hearing. aviation in the united states is the safest in the world and i'm sure my colleagues will agree our intention is to make sure that it remains that way. so, the issue that we are facing right now is the the 5g services launched on january 19th used frequencies in a radio spectrum known as the c-band, which can interfere with the safety equipment in aircraft, specifically radio altimeters. although the faa raised concerns that the 5g networks may interfere with some aircraft, the federal committee cases commission authorized the
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rollout of these networks. jackson international airport is one of the busiest and most efficient airports in the world, and while hartsfield itself is not directly impacted by the 5g rollout, many of the airports that fly through and from hartsfield jackson are. the inability of the faa, fcc, and the aviation and telecom industries to reach consensus on aviation safety regarding 5g is very concerning. numerous stakeholders have been discussing and weighing the challenges to the rollout of 5g technology since at least 2015. that includes the faa, the fcc, national telecommunications and information administration, the aviation industry, and telecom companies. and, despite seven years of deliberation, government agencies were unable to reach a
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consensus on whether 5g interference was safer the aviation industry in time for the 5g rollout last month. mr. dickson, what has prevented the faa from coordinating more effectively without fcc to address industry --concerns? mr. dickson: thank you, congressman. greetings to you in georgia. i'm very familiar from my heritage at delta airlines with the operations of hartsfield jackson. and understand and appreciate your concerns. you know, we recognize that the existing process for spectrum allocation did not serve anyone well. and it's in everyone's best interest, including aviation and the faa, to examine the coordination process across the executive branch, because we are going to be at this, there is no free spectrum anymore.
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so, we're going to be at this not only with 5g c-band, but with other spectrum auctions in the future. we need to make sure that we surface and then resolved, that is the key that you are talking about, have a resolution process for these issues. my job is to make sure that the safety of the traveling public and the safety of the aviation system is not compromised. that's a very high bar. and so, i'm not going to back off from that. and -- >> i would expect the faa to do that. i appreciate your diligence and good to see you today. is it your opinion, sir, that the 5g rollout timeline as executed under the previous administration overlooked safety concerns? mr. dickson: you know, again, i would just say the process did
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not serve anyone well. i am not pointing fingers at anyone or another agency. we have to work together. and we have to recognize, as we said a few minutes ago, that these are two very different industries, but the airspace infrastructure hs -- has to be maintained but it has to coexist with 5g. we certainly all want that in our communities as we go forward. we've make sure that we're working hand in glove with each other to enable these new technologies to roll out in a safe and predictable manner. >> let me ask you this, mr. dickson, what steps can be taken now to ensure that as 5g technology is rolled out, the -- lack of interagency communication does not create additional problems down the road? mr. dickson: there's, i think, ranking member graves talked
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about leadership. it's going to take leadership. secretary buttigieg has been provided a lot of that leadership. we also have an inter-agency group including the department of transportation and the faa. the department of commerce, the fcc, the department of defense meeting now on spectrum issues and the coordination process. and i expect that to certainly leverage the lessons that we have learned throughout this journey. rep. johnson: thank you. i yield back. >> the chair recognizes representative gimenez of florida for five minutes. >> i have a couple of questions concerning the safety aspect of this. would you say that the telephones that are used by the passengers inside the airplane, we've been years been told we
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have to go on airplane mode, are the dangerous height because of this 5g, as more and more passengers have 5g phones? and if they fail to heed the instructions of the flight crew, is that-- does that pose a danger to the aircraft? mr. dickson: you're highlighting an issue that is actually part of the testing that we are doing. because what we have to do is, the towers are generally smart towers. so if you look at 5g as more demand is placed on the power, the power will increase. and so, if you have demand on the telecommunication system that is coming from the airplane, could that focus power on the aircraft as it's flying on low visibility? these are the kinds of things that you can only determine th rough the kind of flight testing that we are doing now and with
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the telecommunications and aviation industry sharing information with the other. i think it is an open question, but it is certainly one of the things we are looking at. rep. jimenez: have you put some kind of instructions to flight crews now to make sure that this happens? because i know on the flights, i fly between miami and my hometown in here and i know that people keep their phones on. they don't put it on airplane mode. have you instructed the airlines to be more vigilant and more, and make sure that these phones are actually on airplane mode? we don't know what these things will do. mr. dickson: that is a great question. and we have communicated that with the air carriers through the safety awareness bulletins that we put out. we will continue to do that and we will continue to have dialogue on how we make sure t hat that's not happening on aircraft. but it is a good issue. it's not like you've got flight
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attendants or pilots who are looking over everyone's shoulder on the airplane. we have to very cognizant of. rep. gimenez: one of the thing people do is tell people why you put it on airplane mode. hey, you may want to put it on airplane mode because we do not know what these things due to the ultimate or. -- to the altimeter. if you can do that and inform the passengers may be more of them will comply. right now, i bet you most people, why we go in airplane mode, ok? mr. dickson: we will look at that. rep. gimenez: one other thing. when exactly did you know that this was an issue, not only wrote the letter but when did you know it was an issue? mr. dickson: the aviation community knew back in 2015. that is when the concerns were
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initially focused. but we started, at the working level, my spectrum engineers and all really were communicating directly with their counterparts at the fcc and elsewhere back as early as 2019 probably even 2018. rep. gimenez: and nothing was done about it? mr. dickson: again, we kept raising the concerns, and then after, tried to get the auction to late, until we could work through the appropriate safety mitigations and then we asked for the underlying data. it just shows the difference between how telecommunications looks at spectrum versus how it interacts with criminal safety systems on aircraft. rep. gimenez: i guess we got caught up in the race to 5g. we wanted to be the first to 5g. we wanted to sell spectrum -- it
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seems to me that in the six years between we could've figured out the solutions way before we had the issue. but that is monday morning quarterback. thank you very much and i yield my time back. >> thank you. the chair now recognizes representative alred for texas for five minutes. rep. alred: [no audio] chair larson: just a moment. we'll go to representative lamb of pennsylvania for five minutes. rep. lamb: going once, going twice? representative johnson of texas. you' are recognized for five minutes. [no audio]
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[low audio] chair larson: representative johnson, i see you on the screen. you are recognized for five minutes. just a moment, administrator. we'll come back. representative lynch. i have got a list of names. i'm assuming -- representative payne of new jersey. rumor is that you are on the screen. there he is. you are recognized for five minutes. hold on a second.
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representative johnson, are you ready? [echoing] rep. johnson: did you call me? chair larsen: i did call you. we will go with representative johnson of texas for five minutes you are recognized. rep. johnson: thank you very much. thank you, and the witnesses. i would like to ask administrator dickson, why did the data exchange between verizon and at&t and faa and the rest of the aviation community only begin at the end of december 2021, knowing that this was on the horizon? mr. dickson: well, thank you, representative johnson. i mean, the real issue is that we don't regulate the
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telecommunications companies. so we do not have a direct relationship with them. and so, we have to basically put in place nondisclosure agreements, you konw. -- know. in the aviation community, part of the safety that we enjoy in the u.s. with aviation as they are required to share their data with us. even though it is proprietary. so, this was a new process for them. once we put that protocol in place, the data started to flow, but it was some time, was a few days before it was really usable because it was in different formats and it was not really, there was a lot of, there wasn't an understanding of the kind of data that we needed because they had never had to produce it for the government before. again, because we are talking about how the signal impacts
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aircraft that are flying through the air. rep. johnson: ok. [low audio] [cross talke] ] i'm wondering, do believe that the faa -- should have a more formal role in assessing the risk of spectrum to the transportation safety? mr. dickson: you know, again, this process did not serve anyone well. including certainly the aviation sector, and it also did not serve the telecommunications industry while. so i do believe that it is again in everyone's interest to examine this process. the saddam spectrum -- the federal spectrum process. the faa is not the only player
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and make sure that we surface and have a process to resolve concerns and issues up front. that will put us in a much better place. rep. johnson: how close are you on getting the altimeter certification for private jets, are we there or is it on the horizon or? mr. dickson: well, the permanent solution is going to be some months away, if not a year or two, because, again, we have to set new air worthiness standards. there is an industry group that is working on that. we will take that information in, and it -- we will be harmonized with europe and other authorities around the world because many aviation authorities around the world are very interested in what we are doing to regulate our aviation manufacturers. once those due standards are set, then the aviation manufacturers will come to us with their designs and we'll
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certify them for use on commercial aircraft going forward. rep. johnson: thank you very much. thank you, mr. chairman. i yield back. chair larsen: thank you, representative johnson. chair recognizes representative mast of florida, five minutes. rep. mast: thank you, mr. chairman. i appreciate it. sir, i want to talk a little bit about 5g, faa, national telecommunications and information administration and a connection, relationship between all of them and how they are working together in order to make sure that we have safe transportation. we can look at it on a number of different fronts. did the national tele-communications and information administration, which oversees public radio waves, did they offer to test civilian aircraft last year? mr. dickson: not that i'm aware
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of. rep. mast: there was a wall street journal article that said that that took place. so, the reporting on that is wrong? mr. dickson: there is no ntia testing that i am aware of of the kind that we would need to do to demonstrate the -- safe performance of radio altimeters for critical safety systems on aircraft. rep. mast: my understanding was that there was not under testing -- any testing and my understanding is that there was an offer by the ntia to do testing and that the faa did not allow the ntia to move forward. is that the case? mr. dickson: i will have to look into that specific. i am not aware of exactly what you are referring to. again, it would depend on how the testing is set up and whether it has the official rigor -- a sufficient level of
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rigor for aviation safety certification. rep. mast: you are saying there would be a barrier for the faa to say, we are not going to allow this testing to take place? mr. dickson: if it is faa testing, and there would be other participation, i think that that would be something we would be very interested in. rep. mast: we will make sure we get you the article so that we can get response from you on what exactly took place in that situation. i appreciate the testimony today. with that, mr. chairman i yield my time back. chair larsen: now we have representative alred from texas. you are recognized for five minutes. rep. alred: sorry about that, mr. chairman protect me with difficulties. i like to think administrator dickson for being with us. nice to see you again, sir, as a member representing dallas and a region that has one of the busiest airports and reall -- r
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air spaces in the country, this is been a very important discussion. i just have one question for you, sir. if the aviation industry is able to design and manufacture new radio altimeters, how long will it take for faa, as an estimate, to certify those? mr. dickson: well, again, the new standards for c-band resistant radio altimeters are yet to be set. so, we will purchase a paid in activity. it is a special committee that has been set up under the auspices of special 239. our technical experts are participating in that activity, as are stake holders from around the aviation community. once those standards are set, we will use them to develop new certification standards that will determine which radio altimeters perform well and
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which noes need -- ones need to be upgraded, and that is what the manufacturers will bring back to us, those new designs. we are saying some promising activity among the manufacturers for devices that may be added to the existing fleet out there, but those would be, not in terms of new certifications, but they would certainly improve the performance of what is out there. we can provide additional operational flexibility to those airlines or operators that may have low performing equipment right now. >> where are you all in reviewing those additional items? mr. dickson: we're talking with the manufacturers on a regular basis. i know that we had actually one of the radio altimeter manufacturers in i believe yesterday talking about product improvements that they were planning to make. those discussions are ongoing on
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a pretty frequent basis. >> that would need an entirely new review process, is that right, or no? mr. dickson: an improvement to an existing design or a filter, for example.. remember that radio altimeters actually, the same radio altimeter on different airplanes can perform to fully, depending on how it is -- perform differently, depending on how it is installed. we have to look at the actual radio altimeter and the airplane combination together. rep. alred: ok. so, obviously whatever we do we want to do as safely as possible. but given in places like dallas where we have these big airports and we want to also move forward with this technology, i hope that we can find something together. if there is anything that we can do to support you in that, i hope you will let us know. mr. dickson: thank you. rep. alred: with that, mr.
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chairman, i yield back. chair larsen: chair recognizes representative massey of kentucky for five minutes. rep. massey: the fcc has an obligation to ensure that the radio spectrum is used -- in obama in 2010, who said free up some space for these telecommunication devices and i was shocked when i get into this to find out how much of the spectrum the aviation industry uses. i'm wondering by 1982 standards, it might've been the highest and best use of that spectrum but now that we get better radiofrequency modulators and ability to use the space. by the way, no more frequency is getting manufactured. we have got all that god has given us. we have to be really careful with this space and use it the best way. what i was shocked to find out was that the radio altimeter,
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which is basically a 1980's version of mark twain's -- in t he--rope in the water and measuring how far down things are pure using 200 megahertz of spectrum. you have a 200 megahertz yard band, if you are not concerned about the low power satellite spectrum in your concerned about the 5g spectrum. it is like we are sitting in the airplane seat and there is an empty seat next to you and your complaining about the seat on the other side of the aisle, is the analogy here, which in 1982, i understand, which is the last time these standards came out. but here's how valuable this spectrum is. it was auctioned off 280 megahertz was auctioned off a year ago and brought $81 billion. so, to use the radio altimeters, we're using 200 megahertz which is about $300 million of
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megahertz, that is the commercial value. we're using $60 billion of spectrum to figure out how far from the ground the airplane is when it gets within a couple thousand feet off the ground. it makes me wonder if we are kind of being sloppy with the spectrum usage in other aviation fields. i know that faa administrator, you were involved in helping develop the acc digital communication between the plane and the tower. you have some familiarity with that? mr. dickson: yes. >> it's my understanding that all of the -- nav for aviation fits in 10 megahertz from 108 to 118 slot, and then we have got the audio communication that sits in the 20 megahertz above that. you all were able to use just
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one megahertz -- to get all the digital committee occasions between the atc and the plane. mr. dickson: yes, sir. do you want me to respond? >> if i'm wrong, correct me. let me go on a little bit. if we were going to design radio altimeters now, how much spectrum do you think we would need? would we need the whole 200 megahertz, which is $60 billion worth of spectrum? could we do it with 10 megahertz, which would be $3 billion? or one megahertz? mr. dickson: i can't, i'm not a spectrum expert myself. but if you're asking me whether we can use spectrum more efficiently, i think the answer is yes. but we have to have a strategy for being able to do that. and, remember, when commercial aircraft are certified and put
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into service, they will operate safely, and we engineer them to carry the public for 30 to 40 years. so, if we are going to put that kind of retrofit mandate and standards development into avionics, that needs to be part of our national strategy, and maybe that is something that can come out of this spectrum process. my point here is, we can't -- we need to have the data of what we're designing around so we can set the standards for the avionics manufacturers and the airplane manufacturers to be able to produce those new units. and will they use spectrum more efficiently? i say that they will. >> that was the whole point of my questioning. you completely understand it. is i want to make sure we do not just solve this problem but we
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-- we are not inventing anymore spectrum. we want to make sure that the aviation industry is a good steward. i understand the changes happen faster with telecommunication than they could be certified in aircraft. i appreciate you willing to be get in front of it and look for a way to use the spectrum. >> the chair represented as -- recognizes represented from new jersey for five minutes. >> it's like the bunny hop. two steps forward and three steps back. >> i apologize. >> no. i'm with you. 5g deployment has the potential to provide high-quality cellular service to millions of americans. we must ensure that the
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deployment is obviously in a safe manner and doesn't impact aviation operations which you have articulated today so we are on the same page there. how is the faa taking this into account regarding the future actions on 5g deployment? >> i would say again, we are working in good faith. to limit -- telecommunication companies are working with us as well. that's creating opportunities for us to deploy additional 5g
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but make sure that aviation safety is protected. not only in terms of the technical performance of the aircraft but also in terms of greater predictability for the flying public and for everyone that's using the national airspace system. that's always going to be our top priority, ensuring the safety of our national airspace and the ability of americans to be able to travel domestically and abroad safely. >> thank you for that. now onto the future. there are areas in which the federal government could have done better -- quite a few -- in anticipating issues with 5g deployment and taking proactive steps to avoid problems so close to the rollout of services, which has been a common theme
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today. i don't know when but eventually there will be a successor to 5g. it's my sincere hope that the history doesn't repeat itself with these problems. what lessons has the faa learned so far in the problems encountered with 5g deployment? how will it inform future actions with nexgen networks? >> that's a great question. i've talked about the federal spectrum process and that there are discussions right now about spectrum issues. i think more broadly, different industries that are intersecting each other -- for example, a lot of our aviation infrastructure these days that used to be on the ground is actually on the aircraft.
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we don't use radar, for example, as a means of surveillance. we have a system on the aircraft transmitting very precise positions to our controllers. gps on commercial aircraft. we are talking about radio alternators. as we go on, it's not just the band. it's also special -- other spectrum activities. we need to make sure we are very coordinated as a federal government but also that industries are able to share data and information with each other. certainly the proprietary nature of their corporate information is protected. that they are able to have dialogue and interchange so that we don't have one in -- one set of engineers saying one thing and another set of engineers saying something else. >> thank you for that. i feel that in the future, we need to maybe look at the agency
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that has jurisdiction over a certain area. you can go to and request help in getting information that you need if it's lacking. i think that would be a really useful thing to have. part of your problem was that you didn't have any jurisdiction over that. whatever is the answer -- entity that does, you should be able to go request that they work with you on these matters. so that is something that maybe i will take a look at. thank you for your time. i yield back. >> thank you. next up. you are recognized for five minutes. >> thank you for having this hearing today. this discussion is essential to
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providing clarity to millions of americans who are understandably confused about the rollout of 5g and its impact on aviation. we will hear from a panel of industry stakeholders later today but i want to focus on the response to the 5g coordination, the lack of coronation between the fdic and the faa leading up to this appointment. in my district in new york, this issue gained significant attention during the week of january 17. we found out that hancock international airport had temporarily lost clearance from the faa for certain low visibility landings. i'm going to tell you something that is earth shattering. it's often a lot of clouds in syracuse at this time of year. today, we are getting a foot of snow. it's not uncommon to have this issue. we didn't know about any of this until january 17 when they were informed. these issues have been resolved
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right now. questions remain. it's understandable that this initial disruption raised significant concerns from passengers. in our region, the airport plays a key role in facilitating travel, acting as an access point for a very large area of commerce. the same is true for hundreds of other airports across the country and for the people they serve. temporary jeopardizing the availability of services at this location can cause major disruptions and diminished public trust and diminished public trust in air travel. at a time when industries are struggling to recover from the impact of the covid-19 pandemic. given that the federal agencies had years for their rollout, it seems like this is an absolutely unacceptable way to handle it. i agree with the chairman that no one wants to see planes falling out of the sky. we have to make sure we are safe. how can we get to the point when
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we have five years in the making? it wasn't until december of 2021 that the faa and stc even entered into an information sharing agreement. i have to ask you mr. dixon, how did it come to this, where the airports at the last minute were getting these directives coming out? you knew this was bubbling up for quite a long time. >> thank you. am very familiar, having spent a few years in my youth, with upstate new york. a beautiful part of the country. i'm very familiar with the weather up there. so as a former pilot myself, with an operational background, i understand that our stakeholders and the air force community feels frustrated. i don't blame anyone for being frustrated. >> i understand that. there is frustration. how did it come to this?
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how do you make sure this doesn't happen again? we are talking about a lot of commerce here. obviously safety issues. it makes me worried about safety issues when you get directives at the last second which indicates that you didn't have a plan and didn't understand the gravity of the situation ahead of time. how did it come to this, briefly? how will we fix it to make sure it doesn't happen again? >> until we had the direct dialogue with the telecommunications companies and their commitment to modify their initial deployment, we weren't in a position to authorize the kinds of poor weather operations. we had to communicate several weeks prior that this was an issue. when we provided the release, we are providing that release to the manufacturers, not to the airlines or the airports. so part of the -- part of what we are working through now -- i
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think we are in a better place -- as we get earlier deployment data from the telecommunications companies, that will allow us to have better line of sight on issues. >> i understand that. it goes back five years. you knew this possibility was coming for five years. how can we help you if you need help from us? is there something we need to do? is there something you need to do to make sure you don't get caught like this again in the future? quite frankly, it gives people the feeling that the bureaucratic malaise in washington is alive and well. the two agencies that weren't talking to each other until the last minute. you not knowing what's going on until right at the end and then you have to issue these things which cause disruptions in the system. you've been working on this issue for five years. >> talking about the actual initial rollout. again, the broader issue of
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spectrum policy and strategy as a country. absolutely, that needs to be addressed. again, we are involved in the conversation with the department of transportation, department of transferred -- >> time has expired. >> thank you. >> carson, you are recognized for five minutes. >> thank you. administrator dixon, while we respect the need for an independent fcc, that doesn't mean that the fcc does what it pleases without real collaboration with other agencies and robust oversight. i think it's a shame that the fcc declined our information -- invitation to testify today. and tia is supposed to act as an
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intermediary between these agencies and the fcc. one can only look at where we are today and really conclude that the process has failed. do you agree with me on the process being broken? what are your thoughts? >> as i said before, the process did not serve anyone well. it did not serve the aviation community well. certainly the faa. it also did not serve the telecommunications industry well. we need to do better as a country. >> yes sir. do you see the process which led us to this hearing today being workable without congress stepping into clarify the intent of the process? how do we keep this kind of problem from happening again? >> i think that we need to stay focused on it. i believe that this is something where we can have -- the chair
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talked about informal dialogue. if we put mechanisms in place so that affected agencies are not innocent parties in these proceedings but actually there equities are recognized in the process and there's a mechanism for early data sharing, because that's what it comes down to, is the data that we need to be able to make the decisions within -- to preserve and protect aviation safety. that's what needs to happen throughout this process. i believe that the conversations that we are having within the executive branch certainly have that goal in mind. >> thank you. i yelled back. >> representative brownlee of california for five minutes. >> thank you mr. chairman.
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thank you mr. administrator for being here. i've been answering some of the other members questions. you talked about leadership being necessary so that this doesn't happen again, bringing agencies together and working together. you mentioned the secretary demonstrating some of that leadership currently. i guess, i don't want to beat a dead horse here. what was the white house doing to help you and assist you during this timeframe? >> i am grateful for the support from the national economic council. it's engagement in this matter to facilitate the dialogue that we needed to have between two very different industries.
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as i've stated several times, the faa had communicated our safety concerns over several years. ultimately, the decision was made to proceed with the spectrum option consistent with the fcc determination and we had to act upon that reality. i wish there would have been a way to avoid that. i think with the subcommittee support and certainly what we are doing now as part of this process, we will see an improved process in the future. again, i think that this is an area that we just need to say focused on. to make sure that we can have a better outcome because this is not the last spectrum issue that we are going to be facing as a country. someone said earlier, there's only a finite amount and we have
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to figure out how to enable future spectrum for beneficial public use. >> thank you for that. so i have two general aviation airports in my district. i have a naval base. i have the 146th airlift wing of the california national guard. my question is, how is all of this impacting general aviation? how are we working with the dod in terms of military national guard? >> we are working very closely with dod, as we do on a whole host of issues. obviously, they share the similar airspace where they are training and other activities that the faa is responsible for.
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certainly, we have a commercial flight occasionally flying into military bases so we have to pay attention to the issues there. in terms of general aviation, we have raised awareness in that community. the vast majority of those operators are not certified to do what we call category two and category three low visibility approaches at less than half mile visibility. so they are not seeing the same kinds of impacts as the commercial air carriers but there are other systems on the airplane that we've raised their awareness of. they are in critical phases of flight. we are soliciting, working with general az asian joint safety committees to make sure -- general aviation joint safety committees to make sure we are getting authorization from the associations that represent them so we can add that into the mix as we develop new standards for
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airplanes going forward. >> would you characterize general aviation airports as being out of the woods in terms of their danger? >> i would say the biggest impacts are on airports, a couple hundred airports that we have that have low visibility approaches. in a 5g environment where you don't have that kind of capability, it's very expensive. you are usually not going to see a general aviation airport with that kind of capability. it's very expensive infrastructure to put in place because you have to certify the flight crew, certify the airplane, and certify the runway with a lot of very expensive infrastructure. that's usually not going to be what you've got at a junior airport. the impacts are not as great. that community is something we are paying very close attention
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to to make sure that they can continue to operate the way that they have previously. >> i hope that will continue to be the case. thank you. i yield back. >> thank you. holmes burton for five minutes. >> thank you nestor chairman. can everybody hear me? >> we can hear you. just fine. >> my question is to administrator dixon. 5g operates on the c band, the mid band of the spectrum, from 3.7 to 2.9. that's adjacent to a 4.2 24.4 band. certain aviation safety equipment includes radio
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altimeters. in 2021, there was a safety alert to operators. the faa warned -- i'm quoting -- although the receiver on the radio altimeter is typically accurate, it may deliver erroneous results. my question is, is the deployment of 5g wireless services to the c band posing a potential unsafe interference? with aviation safety equipment? all their alternative frequencies that telecommunication companies can use for their 5g rollout? what is their frequency?
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>> thank you. it's good to see you this morning. to answer your question, there are other 5g frequency bands. the c band is particularly attractive. it has certain characteristics that make it, in terms of coverage and power levels, very bennett shook -- beneficial for 5g. we certainly recognize that. in terms of the safety information that we have put out , we had a responsibility to notify the aviation community of the potential for interference based on the studies that have been done. and in the work that we're doing
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now in terms of testing continues to demonstrate the performance of the radio altar matters. we will continue to work on that as we move forward. >> thank you. this next question is for mr. viola. i'm interested in this. >> sorry. he's on the second panel. >> oh. ok. [laughter] thank you. is it impossible or impractical for 5g to operate on a different frequency? how costly would it be to operate the radio l.a. meters on regional judges and helicopters that are most susceptible to interference? how much time would be needed to
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approve this equipment? >> again, what we are doing is addressing the rollout that we have in front of us, making sure that we take appropriate steps to ensure that aviation safety is maintained. in parallel, the new standards for radio altimeters are in the process of being developed. once they are developed, it could be that some existing radio altar matters that are out there have satisfactory standards. we don't exactly know where that cutpoint is yet. for those that do need to be replaced that don't meet the new standards, the manufacturers will produce new designs that the faa will certify and then those can be installed. i don't have the specific numbers on what that potential expense is.
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i would imagine there's probably somebody on the second panel that could speak to that point. >> do you know how much time it would take to approve the new equipment? >> again, once the standards are set, which is probably in my estimation, is going to be about this time next year, it's an optimistic scenario. but then i know that there is work going on at the manufacturers right now in anticipation of new standards being set. we will have to see what that looks like once we get those newer standards. >> thank you very much. >> thank you. next up is represented of stopper of minnesota. >> thank you very much. thank you all for being here today. i ask you to look at 5g deployment. in general, other advancements
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in technology. we need to ensure we are using fact-based analysis. this will facilitate an economic environment that allows the economy to grow in technology to advance while ensuring customer safety. when it comes to 5g, we've heard both sides of this argument. to be fair, it's difficult to decipher at times. i agree that passenger safety must be the most paramount priority and interfere -- any interference with instruments demands a solution. i understand that advances in technology like 5g can be important tools for the future. one second. it's important that the government foster innovation, not stifle it. in your opinion, what is the perfect solution to this issue? is it more buffer zones? is it reorienting the powers? is it an instrument fixed to the altimeters? what do you think can be negotiated that is fair to both parties?
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how soon do you think that can be achieved? >> it's a great question. again, we have the short term solution. the key to all of this is early and very transparent data exchange. that process only began in earnest between the aviation sector and the telecommunications companies back in late december. we've made tremendous progress in a very short time. i wish there had been a mechanism for that kind of exchange to happen earlier. i think that we would be in a different place. we can't rewrite that history. moving forward, i think we want to enable technology and innovation as you say but we have to make sure that there's a mechanism for affected stakeholders to be accounted for. it does happen on occasion.
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it did not happen in this particular case and we need to make sure that it does. >> how soon do you think it can be achieved? can you give the committee a timeline? what's your thought? >> again, the mitigations that we have in place in terms of 5g deployment patterns and the presence around airports, what our safety model looks like, the flight testing that we are doing right now, all of that is going to continue to refine what the problems that is. it's going to continue to shrink the problem over the next few months. but the ultimate solution is using the data that we have now and the performance characteristics of the existing radio altimeters out there in the void to develop these newer standards. that's probably not going to
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happen within the next year or so. is that an optimistic scenario? early 2023. the manufacturers will have the information that they need to be able to manufacture new units for those lower performing parts of the fleet that are operating currently. in the meantime, working together in the mitigations that we have in place will be very beneficial in making sure that we continue commerce and have it done in a safe way for the public. also enable additional 5g c bands to happen simultaneously. >> i'm sorry. you are on mute. >> thank you. what is the near plan to ensure this is resolved?
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do you have a working plan to get together so we are not doing this at the last minute or rushing the information or process? >> that's a great question. secretary buttigieg, in our meeting with the telecommunications companies on a regular basis, to ensure that we are continuing to focus on moving forward together, and our technical teams our meeting daily if not multiple times a day as i mentioned earlier. we have set up flight test scenarios at some airports around the country and we will continue to do that. that will give us the fidelity that we need in terms of what this signals when it's actually arriving at the airport. that's research that had never been done before. that will be very beneficial in both the near-term mitigations that we need to continue to take
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and also in developing the long-term solution. >> thank you very much. how much time do i have left? >> you are out of time. >> thank you. i turn it back to you. >> i have two words for you. stay warm. >> [laughter] thank you. >> it's minus six into loose right now. i would like to recognize representative titus of nevada for five minutes. >> thank you. thank you for being here. i would like to go back to the question that was posed, just to put a point on it. general aviation is so important to the las vegas economy. we fly a lot of tourists in commercially. those corporate jets and executives that fly into henderson and north las vegas bring people to raiders games, to conventions.
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i'm glad that you are working on that to be sure that they are accommodated with this new technology as well. >> absolutely. that's very important. again, the initial focus was on international commercial wi-fi aircraft. we didn't want americans to be stranded overseas and not be able to get back home. we continue to work through all the approvals. as the manufacturers bring us their proposals for how their systems will perform, we will process that as quickly as we possibly can. i'm really proud of how quickly the agency has been able to respond at a time that has been very important to the country. >> i appreciate that. so often, we are reacting as opposed to being ahead of the game and then we get behind europe, australia and we try to catch up. that's especially true of the faa before you were there.
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i'm not putting this on you. we couldn't get them to do anything to keep up with the technology. with this new 5g that we are trying to deal with, i would ask you about the advanced air mobility. this new technology is coming. i was pleased to introduce a bill with the chairman and the ranking member. are we trying to get ahead of the game with that? is that going to be also reactive? the same question about drones. we've all heard a lot about drones in the development of the drones. in the airspace and all. are we thinking about anything, any plans to deal with that? >> absolutely. taking drones first, we have made a lot of progress but we have a ways to go. an example of the rigor of the approval process that we go
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through is when we did the rulemaking on remote identification. we engaged all of our federal partners in that. we had to actually change our approach a little bit based on the work that we had done with them. ultimately, we want -- we just completed an aviation's rulemaking committee. doing it at scale rather than with individual exemptions. i'm excited to see that proceed on into the future. that rulemaking is definitely on our to do list. with advanced air mobility, we are working with several manufacturers. i've actually spent some time with several of them. it was an industry roundtable about three months ago, talking about the near-term opportunities. the good news there is that our existing regulatory structure that we have around a lot of telecom operations and other
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types of mobility operations will serve us well in the early going. we have the first machines that we expect to be certified probably around 2024. in the aviation business, that's right in front of us. we are looking forward to see that technology rollout. i think it will be very beneficial to society. and a great for our communities as well. >> thank you. it's a difficult job you have balancing this 5g so we can be competitive, we are talking about competitiveness with china. we need to do that. yet the eighth aa mine priority has always been safety which we want to be sure that the american public feels that they can travel by air safely. >> absolutely. we need to do both. >> thank you very much. i yield back. >> thank you.
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the representative from new jersey for five minutes. >> thank you for holding this hearing on this critical issue. this committee has no hiring -- higher responsibility than ensuring the safety of the flying public. the issue of 5g interference with aircraft radio all to matters is very serious. it's unfortunate that we aren't in the situation. it was preventable. we can and must act to address the immediate problem and to ensure that it never happens again. administrator diction, you are working diligently, hard to move this issue forward. it's clearly the faa's top priority right now to ensure that the 5k rollout occurs in the safest and least disruptive way possible. i command your focus and i know
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that you will keep it up. i'm concerned that this will not be the last time that the faa runs into spectrum management issues. spectrum conflicts are only going to become more common as the airspace fills with new entrants. with the growth of the ua industry come the united states airspace could have millions of drones flying around the country with hundreds of different operators. these companies will need spectrum to manage these drones without question. much of the faa spectrum capability comes from the spectrum engineering office. i have several questions to ask. what role has the faa spectrum engineering office played in the process of detecting and solving the 5g interference issue before us? into the future, do we need more resources? these are changing times and
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changing technologies. we need the resources to deal with them. how will the expansion of the uis industry complicate the spectrum environment? thank you. >> thank you. i know that you have particular focus on this. we've talked about the capabilities of the tech center and are highly capable team there. as i said, this process did not serve anyone well and we need to do better. we will. in terms of resources, i think that if we can improve the process -- we are well -- well resourced for what we have in front of us by spectrum engineers. the last three months, i've been talking to them on a daily basis. they are a very capable group but this is not an issue that's going away. as a matter of fact, in order to
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be able to continue to enable the kind of innovations that you're talking about, it is something that we are focused on in our workforce plan. we really need to make sure that were bringing the kinds of 21st-century expertise and experience into the agency that we will need to move these forward. look forward to continuing to work with you on those very important issues. >> i appreciate it. i look forward to it as well. nothing could be more important right now and i yield back. >> thank you. the chair recognizes represent it of stanton for five minutes. -- representative stanton for five minutes. >> thank you very much. can you see me ok? >> yes. it's fine. >> all right. our nation needs 5g and the capabilities it brings. at the same time, safety over airspace must be a key priority
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for passengers and pilots, crew, administrator dixon, you have the hard job of making both of these things happen right now. when did the faa begin the process to review and approve existing radio all to matters in 5g deployment areas? were there barriers that presented the faa from doing those assumptions earlier? >> the formal process for providing the approvals was dependent upon having the deployment data from the telecommunications industry. remember, we are not certifying new equipment right now. we are addressing what we call an unsafe condition. that's been identified in radio altimeters. when you do that, we issue a directive that essentially does not allow the use of that technology on the airplane.
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so to continue to enable poor weather, low visibility operations again, operations in most cases at less than a half mile visibility where the pilot is doing category two or category three landing approach, it is a very critical tool in that phase of flight. until we had the specific deployment data, latitude, longitude elevation -- a tower on the hill, what is the height of the tower? all of that deployment information is the information that we needed to be able to put our protection zones in place. once we did that, the aviation manufacturers came to us with the level of performance that their testing indicated that their ultimate her's would perform satisfactorily. some of them range from a few
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hundred feet, some of them are well over several miles where they are potentially vulnerable at this point to see band interference. we continue to work that and we will continue to work with the manufacturers to ensure that only those operations i can be conducted safely will be allowed to continue. are there other technicals -- >> are there other technical concerns about interference? >> there are. some airplanes -- the root cause of all of this is the performance of the radial ultimate her. what has happened with certain aircraft types is that the radio altimeter has been architected into other automatic systems on the aircraft. spoilers for the panels that come up on the wing after landing.
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they slow the airplane down. those types of things, in older aircraft types, you may have had a sensor on the wheel that detected when the airplane was on the ground. now with some newer aircraft designs, the radio altimeter is used as a backup or perhaps even primary to those sensors. that safety enhancement becomes compromised as well. the good news here is that the same relief that we are providing for low visibility approaches is also protecting those systems on the aircraft as well. >> what measures does the faa have in place to ensure that the data provided by the telecom industry in 5g deployment areas -- what measures do you have in place to ensure that it's accurate, reliable, and shared with you in a timely manner moving forward? >> again, i'm having regular conversations with their
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leadership around the technical exchanges on a daily basis. we have developed a level of familiarity and a level of collaboration and a building level of trust. it's always best to verify. that's part of what flight testing is telling us. we think that the technical specifications and what they've committed to us is actually the way that things will perform in the real world. the flight testing is helping us to validate things like signal shape and power. frankly, the kind of information exchange that were having with them is information that they were never required to provide. they never even really thought about the impact of a see band signal on a moving aircraft. it was not something that was a thin their oculus. just in the last few weeks, we are understanding each other
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much more effectively than we did before. >> trust but verify. i yield back. >> thanks. as i understand it, for this panel, that's all the members who have questions. we have other members waiting but that's for the second panel. going once, going twice. great. administrator dixon, thank you for joining us and thank you for giving us two hours of your time to some questions. the second panel will also give us some very interesting perspectives for us to explore based on some of the things you said. we will be in touch with you with further questions as well as some follow-up on how we can help out. take you very much for joining us today. >> thank you for your support and leadership. >> for the members and the panel, we are going to take a 10 minute recess. some of us haven't had th


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