Medevac helicopters could be grounded after 5G wireless rollout on January 19

Medevac helicopters could be grounded after 5G wireless rollout on January 19
Medevac helicopters could be grounded after 5G wireless rollout on January 19

AT&T and Verizon are set to unleash their 5G networks across the US on January 19, but the launch could ground many medevac helicopter as a result.

The wireless service can render radar altimeters, which measure altitude, unreliable and under US law, all commercial helicopters must have a working device in order to fly.

Without radar altimeters, landing in remote areas or on hospital landing pads will be near impossible, said Ben Clayton, interim chief executive officer of Life Flight Networks, as reported on by Bloomberg.

The Helicopter Association International (HAI) petitioned the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in October, asking for exemptions from the law when 5G rolls out.

And on January 13, the HAI finally received a response, but is granted only partial approval.

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AT&T and Verizon are set to unleash their 5G networks across the US on January 19, but the launch could mean many medevac helicopter will be grounded as a result

AT&T and Verizon are set to unleash their 5G networks across the US on January 19, but the launch could mean many medevac helicopter will be grounded as a result

'Based on the unprecedented nature of the widespread impacts to radio altimeters … the FAA will grant relief to part 119 certificate holders conducting HAA [helicopter air ambulance] operations in areas in which the FAA has determined that 5G C-Band interference affects or might affect the radio altimeter,' according to the FAA.

However, there are thousands of HAA in the US that cater to at least 300,000 people a year who need to be medevacked to a medical facility.

Helicopters used in medical transportation often land and take off from locations that are not at airports or helipads to evacuate victims of natural disasters or vehicle accidents.  

And a reliable radar altimeter is necessary to ensure the safety of the helicopter, rescuers and patients.

The wireless service can render radar altimeters, which measures altitude, unreliable and under US law, all commercial helicopters must have a working device in order to fly. Pictured is a Verizon going up in Utah

The wireless service can render radar altimeters, which measures altitude, unreliable and under US law, all commercial helicopters must have a working device in order to fly. Pictured is a Verizon going up in Utah 

Regardless, the FAA says this type of transportation cannot be grounded even if  the device is not functioning properly due to 5G interference.

'Permitting the use of NVGs in HAA operations in off-airport or unimproved area locations when a radio altimeter might experience interference is in the public interest,' the FAA shared in a statement. 

'The public interest in allowing such operations to continue is considerable, especially

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