The CEOs of the airlines sent a warning letter to U.S. transport and economic officials. They warned that 5G service from AT&T and Verizon could cause flight cancellations and leave Americans stranded abroad.
Concerns about interference with safety features on aircrafts that relate to the operation and maintenance of the altimeter have caused 5G’s launch to be delayed by two weeks. Telecommunication providers claim that 5G is already in use in Europe for several years without any major disruptions.
The fifth generation of wireless technology, 5G, promises super-fast internet speeds and more bandwidth. In the 3.7-3.98GHz spectrum range, the government sold bandwidth in the C range. The problem is the close proximity of these bandwidths to the rangers 4.2-4.4GHz in which altimeters operate.
Altimeters are used to tell pilots how high they are and enable them to land automatically. They also help to detect dangerous currents known as wind shear. New FAA rules will prevent pilots from using altimeters during night, rain, or snowstorms.
Although it sounds “catastrophic,” how true is that statement? 5G is operational in Europe now since 2019, and planes don’t seem to be falling out of the sky.
Concern is raised about the bandwidth range that would allow in the U.S.
2019 was a year in which the European Union set standards for 5G frequencies mid-range in a range of 3.4 to 3.8 GHz, a lower frequency than the service expected to be launched in the United States. The bandwidth was auctioned in Europe, and it is currently in use in many of its 27 member countries.
European Union Aviation Safety Agency, which supervises 31 countries, stated that the issue was only applicable to U.S. aviation space on December 17. It stated that “at this stage, there is no risk of unsafe interference in Europe.”
Officials from the FAA have noticed that France uses a spectrum (3.6-3.8 GHz), which is further away than the spectrum (4.2 to4.4 GHz), used in the United States for altimeters. Also, France’s power for 5G is lower than what is allowed in the United States.
According to airline executives, up to 4% could be affected by domestic flights. This, in addition to cancellations due to weather or staff shortages caused by COVID, could lead to the industry being paralyzed.
According to the FAA, pilots will be prohibited from using altimeters when landing at airports more than 80 miles from 5G sites. CEOs have been discussing the possibility of canceling more than 1000 flights per day, which could affect as many as 100,000 passengers.
Verizon claims it will not use frequencies at the higher levels of the C band in the next several years. Maybe a technical solution will be available that would allow customers to have all they need and provide security for airline passengers.