You may have heard some murmurings in the news about the rollout of 5G, airline safety, and how, or if, we’ll be impacted by this technology in the long run. Arguments and analysis of 5G and airline safety both tend to get complicated. Rather than venturing down the road of speculation, in the article below Daniel Menard provides an introduction to the merging of 5G technology and aerospace.
You’ve heard of 3G, but what exactly is it? In the case of telecommunications, the “G” stands for generation. This means that 5G is the fifth generation technology standard for all broadband cellular networks, first deployed by cellular phone companies in 2019.
5G is the natural successor to the previous generation, 4G. This technology is what provides connectivity to the vast majority of current cellphones. This technology operates by using frequencies in a radio spectrum called the C-band.
The buzz surrounding 5G and airline safety has been gaining momentum since 2019 but hit a fever pitch in January of 2022 when 5G services were launched across 46 markets.
The major issue here is the possible disruption to airlines because both 5G and certain radio altimeters operate in the C-band spectrum. As a very important piece of safety equipment, radio altimeters are responsible for measuring the distance between an aircraft and the ground. This is important during all stages of flight, from takeoff to landing.
Because these two technologies operate on the same frequency, government agencies and individuals alike are worried that this will cause a disruption.
The short answer is that, no, this new technology is not dangerous. There haven’t been planes “falling out of the sky,” as some critics warned. The issue has turned into more of a nuisance than a danger, with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) imposing limits on aircraft landings where 5G is currently active until they know more.
Certain aircrafts are able to operate around 5G, however. Certain altimeters can be used alongside 5G, with FAA approving new measures every day. Currently, 62% of commercial flights can land safely in these zones. So far, there have not been incidents related to this technology.
What’s Being Done About Airline Safety?
Several organizations, including the Federal Aviation Administration, the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the White House’s National Economic Council, and the Federal Communications Commission, are all currently working on the best plan of action to allow both airlines and 5G to coexist.
For now, the FAA is focused on imposing restrictions on aircrafts and airports in areas with 5G that don’t have the proper type of altimeter. For those that qualify, the FAA is providing instructions for safe landings.
For certain models of planes that have altimeters that may not work properly within the C-band frequency, airlines are opting to cancel or reschedule flights to avoid any risk. Currently, only about 87 airports in the United States are affected.
Although the public has expressed concerns about C-Band and airline safety, the US federal government is taking precautions by imposing restrictions on airports in 5G areas. We expect to see this debate continue as new studies emerge about 5G’s effects.