The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

5G Implementation Debacle Poses Important Lessons For Advanced Air Mobility Flight Operations

Aeronautics standards organization RTCA believes the aviation industry can and should avoid a repeat of the 5G C-band radio altimeter interference debacle when it comes to developing and implementing the digital flight operations required to facilitate both crewed and autonomous advanced air mobility (AAM) operations. During a recent webinar organized by the Helicopter Association International, RTCA chief executive Terry McVenes said that the ongoing controversy over 5G implementation produced “a lot of lessons learned,” chief among them being that the industry can no longer “think of aviation operating in isolation.” 

McVenes said that necessitated planning for things “beyond just traditional aviation” to include the need for consuming more of the available radio-frequency spectrum to facilitate communication between disparate aircraft and their respective systems. “If we’re going to do that successfully and avoid what we went through with 5G, we’ve got to get our industries working together right away, during the development phase, not the implementation phase. We waited too long with 5G. Everybody effectively went in their own direction. Now we’re trying to put the genie back in the bottle and move forward.”

According to McVenes, time is running out to develop and implement digital air traffic control technology to accommodate AAM. “There’s not much talk about how we’re going to integrate [AAM vehicles] into the [National Airspace System] and getting scalability. We’ve got to figure out how we can do that as an increasing number of users are going to want access.”