The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the United States issued a warning on Tuesday that interference originating from the planned use of 5G wireless spectrum presented a risk to aviation safety and might result in flight delays.
Concerns have been expressed by the aviation sector and the FAA concerning potential 5G interference with sensitive aircraft equipment such as radio altimeters. After the FAA voiced concerns, AT&T and Verizon Communications agreed in November to postpone the commercial debut of C-band cellular service until January 5.
The FAA issued a pair of airworthiness directions mandating the amendment of aeroplane and helicopter flight manuals to restrict certain activities that need radio altimeter data while 5G C-Band wireless broadband signals are present.
According to reports quoting a FAA sleuth, the “unsafe condition” posed by the planned use required immediate action before the Jan. 5 deployment “because radio altimeter anomalies that are undetected by the aircraft automation or pilot, particularly close to the ground … could lead to loss of continued safe flight and landing.”
It believes the “expansion of 5G and aviation will safely co-exist”, the FAA reiterated in a statement. The two orders “provide a framework … to gather more information to avoid potential effects on aviation safety equipmentm” the agency added.
The FAA is still in talks with the FCC, the White House, and industry officials on the particular outlines of any specific limitations, which are anticipated to be announced in a series of notices in the coming weeks.
The FCC said that it “continues to make progress working with the FAA and private entities to advance the safe and swift deployment of 5G networks … We look forward to updated guidance from the FAA in the coming weeks that reflects these developments.”
It is unclear whether airports or specific flights may be affected. The FAA stated that notifications will be provided “when needed” to “identify the exact regions where data from a radio altimeter may be incorrect owing to the presence of 5G C-Band wireless broadband signals.”
On November 24, AT&T and Verizon said that they will take preventive measures to limit interference for at least six months. However, aviation industry organisations argued on Monday that they were insufficient to satisfy concerns about flight safety.
Verizon said “there is no evidence that 5G operations using C-band spectrum pose any risk to aviation safety, as the real-world experience in dozens of countries already using this spectrum for 5G confirms,” and reiterated its confidence about the FAA ultimately coming ot a conclusion that C-Band 5G use “poses no risk to air safety.”
Verizon added it was “on track to launch 5G using C-band next month and to reach 100 million Americans with this network in the first quarter of 2022.”
The wireless companies said in November they would take “additional steps to minimize energy coming from 5G base stations.” The FAA said under 2020 FCC rules “base stations in rural areas of the United States are permitted to emit at higher levels in comparison to other countries.”
(Adapted from Reuters.com)
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