Could the introduction of 5G affect flight safety? Aviation industry reportedly expressed “deep concern”

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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has raised significant concerns about a plan to use frequencies for 5G radio networks for aviation safety and plans to issue a formal warning of the issue, according to sources and a letter viewed by Reuters.

The aviation industry has raised the alarm over a plan to use C-band spectrum for more than a year. Network operators are expected to use the spectrum in 46 markets from December 5th.

FAA Assistant Administrator Bradley Mims, in a previously unreported letter dated Oct. 6, said the agency shares “grave concerns about the potential aviation safety impact of disruptions to radar altimeter performance from 5G network operations in the C-band “.

An FAA spokeswoman said Friday that she “continues to work with other agencies so that aviation and the latest generation of 5G cellular technology can safely coexist”.

The Federal Communications Commission said Friday that it remains committed to ensuring flight safety, as demonstrated by the agency’s track record, while advancing the use of new technologies that support American business and consumer needs.

The FAA held an extended meeting with the aviation industry on October 14th on the subject. FAA and FCC officials have had numerous discussions on the matter, the sources said.

The FAA plans to issue a Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin and an airworthiness directive on the matter shortly, two officials told Reuters, confirming a report by the Wall Street Journal.

The aerospace sector met with the FCC in August and warned, without changes, that “the introduction of 5G is likely to cause major disruptions to the use of the National Airspace System,” adding that the FAA will be forced to “die To drastically reduce the operational capacity of the aviation industry ”.

Cellular trading group CTIA said Friday that 5G networks can safely use the C-band spectrum “without causing harmful interference to aircraft,” citing numerous active 5G networks using this frequency band in 40 countries … each Delay in activating this spectrum puts America’s competitiveness at risk. “

A longer-term solution is to retrofit some altimeters with out-of-band filters, but it would likely take years and “many thousands of civil aircraft are likely to be affected, the aviation industry said.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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