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Why is the prospect of a 5G mast causing aviation regulation concerns in the US?

21 January 2022

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Why is the prospect of a 5G mast causing aviation regulation concerns in the US?

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AT&T and Verizon’s recent plans to roll out 5G masts for mobile phones have been delayed after concerns were raised from both aviation regulators and several high-profile airlines. 

The wireless carriers behind the plans have been forced to delay the project as the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) claimed that 5G signals could interfere with radio altimeters. These measure the altitude of planes and are vital pieces of equipment for pilots, especially when landing during challenging weather conditions. 

In addition, this has also led to several airlines ‚Äď including British Airways, Emirates and Air India ‚Äď either cancelling or changing US-bound flights due to their concerns of a 5G mast being located near airports.¬†

What do we know so far? 

What was the initial action? 

The United States had initially auctioned mid-range 5G bandwidth to mobile phone companies in early 2021 which operated in the 3.7-3.98 GHz range on the spectrum known as ‚ÄėC band‚Äô.¬†

Why is this a concern? 

The U.S. Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has since warned that this 5G technology could potentially interfere with crucial aviation equipment such as altimeters; potentially putting passengers at risk. As altimeters operate in the 4.2-4.4 GHz range, the concern is that frequencies from the 5G masts sit dangerously close to this range. 

How have telecoms companies responded? 

Verizon and AT&T initially responded by stating that C band 5G had been deployed in approximately 40 other countries without any reported aviation interferences. They have since agreed on implementing buffer zones to around 50 airports in the United States for six months to reduce risk of feared interferences.  

Has this issue been reported elsewhere? 

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has stated that this is an issue specific to U.S. airspace by saying: ‚ÄúAt this stage, no risk of unsafe interference has been identified in Europe‚ÄĚ.¬†The European Union set standards for mid-range 5G frequencies that operated within a 3.4-3.8 GHz range, which falls much lower than what has since been rolled out in the United States.¬†¬†

Ideagen and aviation safety 

At Ideagen, we provide software and services to organisations operating within highly regulated industries.  

We have an impressive track record of supplying organisations within the aviation sector with quality management software that ensures that they can maintain high quality standards within a safe environment even through the midst of change such as the introduction of a 5G mast. Ideagen’s portfolio of clients span across the globe, including UK, EU, UAE and SE Asia. Regardless of where you are based, our aviation experts are more than happy to assist. 

Prioritise safety management

Our aviation experts are available to keep your organisation informed, while offering quality management software that ensures the safety of your operations. Visit our aviation recovery hub for more information.

 

Ideagen's James Vjestica
Written by

James Vjestica

As Ideagen’s Content Marketing Executive, James is primarily focussed on manufacturing and keeping individuals in this sector informed of the latest regulatory news and trends. He comes from a marketing background and is passionate about creating engaging content that answers questions relating to software solutions and regulatory changes.

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