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5G now means some flights won’t be able to land when pilots can’t see the runway

Verizon and AT&T are hoping new swaths of C-band cellular radio spectrum will help make the 5G hype closer to reality, but the big mid-band 5G rollout may have a side effect. Airplanes rely on radio altimeters to tell how high they are above the ground to safely land when pilots can’t see, and the FAA is now instructing 6,834 of them to not do that at certain airports because of 5G interference. ( More...

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Sidney Smith 13
Isn't the function of an efficient government, FAA vs FCC, to look at these issues long before it gets to this kind of mess. I had a Bonzer Radar Altimeter in a Cessna 401, yes, 401 in the 70's, RA's were first, they win.
Paul Yoes 8
Yep, seems like a lot of political posturing instead of just solving the problem. From the cellular side, my bet is they see this as only affecting outdated RA's. From the aviation side, it's a problem that only exists because of the FCC reuse of C-band for cellular. This should've been addressed at the time the FCC decided to auction off that spectrum for cellular use. Even with enough advance warning (maybe 5-10 years), it's not entirely unreasonable to require upgrades of RA's without effective bandpass filtering. If I were king, I'd say prorate the cost based on the age of the RA install--- 25+ years old, nothing. Less than 25, then prorated reimbursement up to full cost if the RA was installed just prior to notification to aircraft owner's. FCC auction proceeds used to pay those reimbursements.
Ken Mason 2
This is the kind of attitude that gets airports closed. We were first so screw you. The horse and buggy whip was here first maybe you need to go back to using them. I watched arrogant pilots piss off city council members and homeowners with that attitude and come close to losing their airports. Cooler heads prevailed and the airport won.

Equipment manufacturers need to step up and protect their equipment with highly efficient band pass and bandstop filters they are not expensive I built them for pipeline telecom use adding high quality shielding and bonding can eliminate the threat. Rather than piss and whine about the problem resolve it for your customers and let’s move on.

The number of people who will benefit from the use of the band cars exceeds the small handful of RA in use let’s fix the problem and move on. But then doing that does t mean good journalism and handwringing and it doesn’t sell clicks on the internet
Gerry Creager 1
This was an issue that arose during the previous Administration, and the FCC Administrator (Ajit Pai) was "pro Big Business" which, in this case, translated to cell carriers are bigger donors than science, safety of flight, weather radars, weather satellites, etc. FCC Staff identified issues but the Commission, under Pai's leadership, went down the current path.
There are other areas looking at spectrum issues left over from that FCC administration. Right now, there's a satellite company threatening to disrupt earth observations and earth-sensor data collection with a decision to place their next satellite-based internet solution channels directly adjacent to the frequencies used by NOAA for the aforementioned functions.

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

Paul Yoes 14
Radar altimeters and 5G do not operate in the same band. Radar altimeters operate on 4.2-4.4 GHz, the 5G equipment operates on 3.7-3.98 GHz. The problem sounds like older radar altimeters lack bandpass filtering adequate to filter out C-band transmitters. This is more of a crappy or outdated design issue with some radar altimeters than a problem caused by 5G. The powers that be are stuck weighing the expense of upgrading 6,834 airplanes or hamstringing cellular companies in providing the needed capacity to the roughly 250 million cell phone users in the U.S. Seems like a relatively small expense all things considered to replace what is likely older equipment in the first place given the economic impact of blocking C-band for cellular.

Maybe the FCC that created this situation could pony up some of the roughly $80 BILLION they received in licensing fees from cellular companies on C-band auctions for the spectrum in question to address the situation they're partly responsible for. $170 million @ $25,000/aircraft? Small numbers considering it affects the 250 million cellular users in the U.S.
Ken Lane 2
You're the first person I've seen reference the issue with filtering and shielding.

That said, there's still a concern with phones being activated on the aircraft and not knowing how much effect they may have. There should be little to no effect on most newer birds. But, older birds still around... who knows?

With enough power and close enough frequencies in that range, it can have some effect.

It's clear the FCC was more interested in the money than potential RF interference.
J B 4
Had a vague recollection, web search confirms Canada's federal govt has restricted 5G deployment around airports because of the altimeter interference question. Telecoms are the unhappy ones here. May turn into another "airplane mode" controversy with public uncertainty and regulators erring on the side of caution.
Nancy Sliwa 4
I wonder how this will affect the new Garmin AutoLand feature for small jets and advanced turboprops?
Mike Mohle 4
It is now called the Garmin AutoHold feature......
msetera 6
Apparently 5G converts the AutoLand into an AutoCrash feature.
JPeroyea 9
I assume the Telecommunications lobby was much more than the Transportation lobby....? $$$$
sharon bias 6
Aviation hasn't figured out how to effectively handle the drone problem. Those things were a menace fighting CA fires this summer. Now we add a 5G communications issue into the mix. There are probably 5,000 cell phones in the same area as a single drone operator. That's not good odds for avoiding trouble. I don't understand why the communications industry, and aviation industry, and the government agencies that regulated said industries can't just talk..or e-mail...or snail.mail idea's and concerns about current and potential problems. Each use the others services. It's in everyone's best interest to make this work.
WhiteKnight77 3
Bureaucracies in Washington refuse to work together on any level for any thing. Add to that, when something is sorted out and rules handed down, the general public will keep refusing to do what is needed.
Jasper Buck 3
The FAA's 12/7/2021 statement on 5G:

The two ADs:



J Buck
FAA Aviation Safety Inspector (Ret.)
DFW Steve 5
The ineptitude of a now-politicized FAA and FCC, laid bare for all the world to see.
Karluz Heiz 2
When first and second accident happens due to this radio interference then safety may take first place in behalf of communications lobby profit over 5G...inst it easier to change 5G frequency, band etc...if not so implement 6G? Satellite like Starlink!
Gary Harper 4
" The FAA believes the expansion of 5G and aviation can safely co-exist". So, the answer is to issue an AD to cover their butt and call it a win. How do these fools sleep at night?
Mike Mohle 5
Same mentality as NIH/CDC without the white coats.............
Heatseekerws6 3
What happens WHEN a 5G instalation is found to be the cause of a crash?
Anthony Fiti 8

Because it won’t happen.

In Japan, KDDI is deploying 5G in the 4.0-4.1ghz band, which is several hundred MHz closer to the altimeter frequencies than what is going live in January in the US. The UK is going to open up 3.8-4.2GHz as well (though not to national operators but to local and regional uses). Canada is also going to open up 3.7-4.0GHz as well.

Where is all the hubbub?

This is a racket by the FAA to get you (the consumer through higher cell phone bills) to pay for new altimeters for people who can afford them anyways but want a free lunch at your expense.

They tried this in the UK too with their mid band 5G and it more or less failed.

I love aviation (and technology) but it’s so disappointing and frustrating to see so many people pontificate about the supposed impacts when it seems very clear to me that there are none. If there were legitimate concerns this would be a worldwide issue. But it’s not, it seems localized to the UK and US and it’s because regulators aren’t doing their jobs for the nation as a whole but instead their narrow constituencies.
Ken Lane 2
Have you ever played with high power transmitters and dealt with RF interference of those around you?

Said by a ham operator who has played with RF since age thirteen.
Apparently money making is more important then safety. Bu the way, is my 3 or 4 g phone not fast enough?
ADXbear 3
The government must step in and stop the Telecommunications companies to stop 5g... airliner safety should be priority and have had Radio Altimiters for along time.
Ya think these 5g companies would have done some research fist before developing their systems.

If the must proceed, they should pay to have the c band filters installed on every jet. This whole matter was avoidable.
takeoffs mandatory, landings optional
Tim Dyck 2
To date every plane that has taken off has returned to earth.
greater control with those who refuse to turn off their cell phones or put them in airplane mode
Roy Hunte 1
I wonder what the huge push for 5G is all about.🤔
mbrews 16
5G is ultra speed cellphone service. So that Facebook can place you in a more fake universe called the meta verse. For frequently fogged-in airports like San Francisco , powering a bunch of 5G towers along the 101 parallel to Rwy 27L might SEVERELY affect and constrain aircraft movements. would that be poetic justice for the denizens of Silicon Valley like Facebook and Google ?
Frank Harvey 7
Its not just things like 5G towers (which are static and somewhat visible) but we don't seem to worry about the possible consequences of Elon Musk's SpaceX Starlink cluttering up "Space" with, initially, 1,700, and ultimately 30,000, more satellites. In addition to their physical presence and impact on astronomy, how much RF are these things going to be pumping out ? What happens if China, or Russia or someone else like India, or all of them, then decide they want to build a similar system ?
mbrews 5
Satellites might be a future concern, but are not today's topic. The S*** will hit the fan in 28 Days (Jan 5) From the article :

"The FAA ruled on Tuesday that those thousands of US planes (and some helicopters) won’t be able to use many of the guided and automatic landing systems that are designed to work in poor visibility conditions, if they’re landing at an airport where there’s deemed to be enough interference that their altimeters aren’t reliable."

“Landings during periods of low visibility could be limited due to concerns that the 5G signal could interfere with the accuracy of an airplane’s radio altimeter, without other mitigations in place,” FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford tells The Verge.

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Lloyd Sharp 1
Where are our Intellectual leaders ?
This is the downside of Capitalism--
To allow telephone companies to adversely affect Aviation Safety, all for making a buck.
Greed is such an ugly thing.
Ken Lane 3
The phone operators were simply buying band access.

It's the government whose eyes glazed over at $80 Billion in fees collected.
Ed Chapman 1
Is this an actual problem or a “possible” problem? How many aircraft would this affect? I feel this a bi of click bait at the moment. The article clarifies towards the end:
Verizon and AT&T did agree to push back the launch of C-band by one month (to January 2022), and also offered to dial back the power of 5G towers for six months past that to address concerns. Carriers and their lobbying group, the CTIA, have suggested that there isn’t a valid reason to fear interference, but the FAA has so far not been convinced. Nor was an aviation lobbying group, the Aerospace Industries Association, which sent a letter to the FCC on Monday suggesting that AT&T and Verizon’s proposed power limits don’t go far enough for safety. The FCC, not the FAA, is the entity that regulates wireless interference.

While C-band 5G and these radio altimeters don’t actually operate in the same band, the bands are close enough that the fear exists.
Rex Bentley 1
Lindberg didn't have no stinkin' 5G
Tim Dyck 3
Lindberg didn’t have instrument landing aids.

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

It is actually very real. I know and work with people who are studying this right now. The FAA has already put out restrictions on aircraft operations when these services are turned on. It will impact most, if not all, airliners and business jets. Landing in fog or low visibility situations will be impacted.
Kurt Matthies -3
Is this another tragic result of a smaller, lassez-faire centralized government, and the "wisdom" of the marketplace?
Laissez-faire does not describe the relationship between the government and markets in the United States. Moreover, the federal government has been growing steadily for decades.
carla maccanti -8
5g is for military use, we should know it, shouldn't we?

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

sharon bias 1
Took decades of research to show that high voltage power lines don't cause physical problems in humans. Still some debate about environmental and animal behavioral problems. The issue is technology doesn't allow decades to research for potential problems. This is part of the current Covid issue. Do you do your best to fix/improve things now vs the potential for problems showing up decades later? This is a very individual decision. Personally, I'm not going to fly for the first few months after this is implemented. I don't need decades to decide, but I don't want to be on the "bleeding edge" of new technology.


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