Washington DC, 7 January 2022 (TDI): Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the largest transportation agency of the US Government, which administers all the areas of civil aviation at both the national and international levels.

Presently, FAA is devising a pragmatic methodology to assure the secure interaction of the radio signals generated from newly activated wireless telecommunications systems with aircraft operations. In this regard, FAA and other aviation (AVN) and telecommunications industries are endeavoring mutually for the said subject purpose.

By keeping the big differences of US aviation protection versus the protections being used in France, FAA issued a fresh warning that the latest 5G wireless communication service might possibly be impaired for flight operations.

Safety Concerns

In this regard, FAA has highlighted the obvious concerns at their official website about the possible discrepancies on the sensitive electronics of the airplanes’ equipment such as altimeters.

Radio Altimeter is a device that provides highly accurate information about the height of an aircraft from the ground. Data from this device informs other safety equipment on the plane such as navigation instruments, terrain awareness systems and collision avoidance systems.  

In the United States, 5G services were set to launch on January 19th, using frequencies in the C-band radio spectrum. Suspicion was being denoted that these frequencies may be comparable to those used by radar altimeters (an important component of aircrafts’ safety equipment).

The FAA requires radar altimeters to be precise and dependable by guaranteeing that said comparability of frequencies does not result in harmful interference.

Because the anticipated 5G installation includes a new combination of power levels, frequencies, proximity to flight operations, and other variables, the FAA will have to impose the limits on flight operations using certain types of radar altimeter equipment adjacent to the 5G network antennas.

Risk of Disruption by 5G

These safety measures may have a dire impact on aircraft schedules and operations of the aviation system. Before and after the installation of 5G, FAA is fully determined to mitigate the consequences of this disruption and seek the safe integration of 5G with aviation.

American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T), Verizon Wireless Company has shown their unanimous unconditional acquiescence to take the same procedures in France. In order to avoid aviation safety crises and impediments in flight operations, the carriers agreed to postpone the use of the C-Band spectrum for wireless service until January 19, 2022.

President Joe Biden appreciated the agreement which was held between wireless carriers and US authorities regarding authorization for the utilization of 5G in the prospective two weeks. The FAA stated that the delay will let it study the measures to poise and minimize the hindrances to altimeters and more time will be given to companies for preparation

According to FAA, 5G airport buffer zones cover “96 seconds of flight” in France whereas safety procedures surrounding US airports “protect the last 20 seconds of flight.” According to the report, the United States’ temporarily decreased power levels will be 2.5 times greater than France’s. It also has been noticed that France needs antennas to be inclined downward to reduce detrimental interference but a rule that the US does not have.

US versus France: Big Differences (FAA)
US versus France: Big Differences Model Diagram has been published at the official website of the FAA explicate the contemporary scenario

According to FAA, radar altimeters mandatorily proved to be safe for the holistic 5G environment of the US, that’s why FAA is contemplative by keeping the signal strength in view while analyzing the safety and risk.

Last year, AT&T and Verizon secured approximately the entire C-Band spectrum having worth of $80-billion in an auction. Last November, FAA issued a warning regarding the requisite action to address the possible disruptions posed by 5 G. In this regard, the carriers agreed to postpone the deployment for 30 days up to January 5th of the running year.

FAA’s Agreement with AT&T and Verizon

FAA’s agreement with AT&T and Verizon guaranteed that both communication services will be allowed to begin their service this month and they agreed to temporary buffer zones around 50 airports that the FAA will identify by Friday. According to Biden, the agreement would get them back on schedule by substantially decreasing disruptions in aviation operations after January 19.

According to the FAA, even with a temporary buffer of 50 airports, 5G deployment would raise the risk of disruption during low visibility (including flight cancellations, diverted flights, and delays during periods of low visibility).

FAA affirmatively announced that during the two-week postponement, they are working to complete their evaluations for the most popular altimeter which will allow some aircraft to fly in 5G and minimize disruptions.