The FAA has issued an order restricting pilots from using automatic landing systems at a number of un-named airports (to be named in the future). The concern is that new C-Band frequencies that will be activated in January will interfere with some cockpit safety systems that allow pilots to land in bad weather or when they cannot see the runway. It seems that everyone involved in this situation is having trouble balancing the benefits of new 5G services with the danger to the flying public. While discussions are still ongoing, the flying public needs to keep one eye on this situation as it could affect flying safety and also could impede the rollout of new 5G services in and around airports.
What is the basis for this struggle? It appears that new C-Band frequencies are adjacent to the ones used by plane altimeters and other gear used to land planes using automation and beacons that guide planes to the runway. Wireless carries argue that there are significant “guard bands” around the frequencies being used which are like fences that protect against interference. The FAA isn’t yet convinced which should cause the flying public to feel comfortable that this issue is being fully vetted. The wireless industry has pointed to the fact that these frequencies are used in other countries around the world and our guard band is twice the size of what is used elsewhere.
The FAA has worked with telecommunications companies and other government agencies to ensure that 5G does not interfere with airplane avionics or communications systems. In a statement, a spokesperson for Verizon said that the company has been working closely with the FAA and plans to continue doing so.
“We have been working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration, including addressing any questions they have about Verizon’s plans for the roll-out of 5G services,” said a Verizon spokesperson. “In those discussions, we have been open and transparent about our plans as well as how we plan to use the 20 MHz of spectrum in the 14 GHz band, consistent with international 5G NR [New Radio] standards and well within the channel bandwidths being adopted for mobile users around the world. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with public agencies such as the FAA and sharing Verizon’s extensive experience deploying networks using this spectrum,” he added. ”
The bottom line to this issue is that Mr. Dickson has made an assuring statement that 5G wireless technology and aviation can coexist. At a mid-November industry event, he said that both the telecom and aviation industries could make changes to ease development to make this possible. However, the next steps about how these developments are to be made are still to be determined and will take a little while.
5G technology brings several benefits to both individuals and businesses, but it may also cause some issues. The new signals use high frequencies and can be disrupted by obstacles or even bad weather. This means that operators need to install more small cells to ensure good coverage, and there is also a greater risk of interference. In addition, the new wireless technology could interfere with cockpit instruments and aircraft navigation equipment such as GPS, according to the General Public Utilities Aircraft Engineering Association (GAPVAS), a US-based non-profit organization. The FAA says it is studying the possible effects of 5G on airplane navigation systems.
The concern is that the high-frequency signals of 5G could disrupt or even disable crucial navigation and communication systems on airplanes. This could lead to accidents, as pilots would not receive essential information about their aircraft or surroundings.
Therefore, the aviation industry is urging the FAA to take action and investigate the potential interference of 5G signals before they are rolled out commercially. Industry groups have even written a letter to the agency, asking for measures to ensure that 5G signals do not interfere with aircraft. The letter was signed by the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), and Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). They are also asking for a specific plan to be put in place before 5G is launched commercially. So far, the FAA is said to be looking into the matter, and the agency is known to be wary of 5G signals and their potential effects on airplane navigation and communication systems.
The groups ask the FAA to work together with telecommunications companies, regulatory agencies, and airplane manufacturers to address the potential interference. They are also asking for a specific plan to be put in place before 5G is launched commercially.
Stay tuned for more information on this topic from Connected Real Estate Weekly.