5G wireless service may still disrupt flights, US Federal Aviation Administration says

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a fresh warning on Thursday that the new 5G wireless service could still disrupt flights, saying there are “big gaps” between US aviation security and those used in France. Were.

Late Thursday, the FAA launched a dedicated webpage on 5G and aviation safety, raising questions about the potential impact on sensitive airplane electronics such as altimeters.

This week, AT&T and Verizon agreed to take similar precautions in France. On Monday, the carrier said they would delay the use of C-band spectrum for wireless service until January 19 – an agreement aimed at addressing an aviation security crisis and flight disruptions.

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden hailed a deal between wireless carriers and US regulators allowing 5G deployments in two weeks. The FAA said the delay would allow it to evaluate ways to reduce disruption to the altimeter, and would also give companies more time to prepare.

The FAA said 5G airport buffer zones in France cover “96 seconds of flight,” while security precautions around US airports “protect only the last 20 seconds of flight.” It said temporarily low electricity levels in the US would be 2.5 times higher than in France. It noted that France requires antennas to be tilted downwards to limit harmful interference, a rule the United States does not have.

“If there is a potential for risk to the flying public, we are obliged to stop the activity until we can prove that it is safe,” the FAA website said. “Radar altimeters must still prove safe to fly in these airports in the overall US 5G environment, so we must take high signal strength into account when assessing safety and risk.”

AT&T and Verizon won nearly all C-band spectrum in an auction last year for $80 billion (about Rs 5,94,215 crore). In early November the FAA issued a bulletin warning action may be needed to address potential interference from 5G, which prompted carriers to agree to delay deployment by 30 days to January 5.

The deal on Monday assured AT&T and Verizon that they would be able to begin service this month, and they agreed to temporary buffer zones for about 50 airports that the FAA would identify by Friday.

The FAA website said 50 airports are covered because “wireless companies only agree to 50 airports.” AT&T and Verizon did not immediately comment.

Biden said the agreement “keeps us on track to substantially reduce disruption to air operations” after January 19.

The FAA said that “even with a temporary buffer around 50 airports, the deployment of 5G will increase the risk of disruption during low visibility” including “cancellations, diverted flights and delays during periods of low visibility”. .

The FAA said it is working during the two-week delay “to meet evaluations of the most popular altimeters to allow some aircraft to operate in 5G and reduce disruptions.”

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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