(Photo: FreeFlight Systems)
FreeFlight Systems, the Irving, Texas-based avionics manufacturer, has received Technical Standard Order (TSO) authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration for its RA-6500 and RA-5500 Terrain series radar altimeters. TSO authorization is the latest milestone completed by FreeFlight on the new altimeters that use radiofrequency (RF) filters and digital signal processing techniques to protect radar altimeter signals from potential 5G C-band wireless network interference.
Anthony Rios, president of FreeFlight Systems, first provided an overview of how their new altimeters mitigate against 5G C-band interference in December last year as the FAA was preparing a series of directives and policy updates related to landing at airports located near new stations operated by AT&T and Verizon. The company’s TSO authorization received for the RA-6500 dual install and RA-5500 single install altimeters follows its launch of the RA-4500 Mark II (MK II) in March.
The FAA issues TSO authorization to aviation companies for equipment that has demonstrated the ability to meet government-industry agreed upon minimum performance standards. Receiving a TSO authorization confirms both design and production approval, according to the FAA.
The RA-5500 (Photo: FreeFlight Systems)
“We have a considerable backlog of orders from operators and OEMs, particularly the Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) segment. Now having the TSO certification, we are ready to begin product shipments,” Rios said in a statement released by FreeFlight. “This is good timing considering the accelerating deployment of 5G networks across the country which continues to challenge flight safety.”
TSO authorization for the new altimeter technology has been issued for FreeFlight two months after the FAA released its latest 5G C-band policy update. In June, the agency released a statement explaining that operators of regional aircraft determined to be the most susceptible to interference from 5G C-band wireless signals will need to install 5G-tolerant RF filters by the end of the year.
AT&T and Verizon also reached an agreement with the FAA in June to delay switching on some portions of their respective 5G C-band wireless networks until July 2023.
The RA-6500 and RA-5500 altimeters have been developed for "all segments of aviation," according to FreeFlight, including fixed and rotary-wing commercial transport, business, and military aircraft.
FreeFlight has also retained an analog ARINC 552 interface on the RA-5500 and RA-6500 for "integration with legacy indicators and components," according to the company.