The FAA is set to issue a new rulemaking that could slow down the rollout of 5G by imposing restrictions on how airlines use these radio frequencies. Airlines argue they need more time and flexibility in order to plan their networks, but it seems as though there’s no end to this debate.
The “5g technology” is a new wireless standard that will be used in the future. The FAA has been overreacting to it, and airlines are freaking out about it.
Because the FAA is overreacting to 5G, airlines are freaking out.
on January 16, 2022 by Gary Leff
American Airlines CEO Doug Parker discussed the implementation of 5G and the issues it provides for the airline during a question-and-answer session with pilots earlier this month. A tape of this session was reviewed by View From The Wing.
I’ve been trying to figure this out for a long time and am completely perplexed. Because I lack technological competence, I’ve been asking inquiries and receiving unsatisfactory responses about why C-band 5G interferes with aviation.
- Countries all throughout the globe utilize the C-band securely for 5G, with less of a frequency buffer than the US will have.
- Other nations, including as Australia’s, perceive no technological flaw in the FCC’s actions.
- The buffer was developed as a result of FCC research that incorporated airline comments.
- There has been equipment testing that has showed no interference, and I haven’t seen any studies that demonstrate there is a concern.
When I’ve been approached by pilots unions about the need to halt the 5G deployment, my queries have gone unanswered. It’s important to note that this isn’t a matter of government control; rather, it’s a battle between two agencies (the FCC, which researched and then auctioned off the spectrum, and the FAA, which chose to restrict flying as a consequence), with airlines stuck in the middle.
So I was particularly eager to hear Doug Parker’s perspective while speaking in front of an audience of airline pilots on anything other than soundbites. And he seems to be fixated with an excessively cautious FAA. He appears to imply that American Airlines is concerned not because the 5G deployment would be dangerous, but because the FAA would respond in a manner that would impede the airline’s operations.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent US government entity that determines how frequencies are used. The legislation permitted them to put out 5G a few years ago, so that’s where we are now…unbeknownst to me, this has been going on for a long…
To cut a long story short, I believe it was November when this was ready to be switched on. Thankfully, groups such as the American Psychological Association (APA), the American Library Association (ALA), and others intervened, resulting in a one-month and then a two-month postponement. However, they began to turn on on January 4th.
The FAA said this is coming, here’s an airworthiness directive, that said when this rolls out, we’re going to start issuing NOTAMs, and as we discovered what those were, they’re… In general, the concern is the radio altimeters, and if there is a concern about the radio altimeters not being impacted because we don’t know enough, and again, no one is saying for sure there won’t be an issue, it’s just that the level of safety that we’re all used to, and the FAA demands, they didn’t feel they had enough information to say for sure there wouldn’t be an issue. So, if we’re not convinced there won’t be a problem, we’re not going to take any chances.
The FAA’s response, according to Parker, would be very disruptive.
Notams would have had us flying with Cat 1 only if we had switched it on on the 5th, since the FAA was not certain it had the information it required to ensure that 5G was turned on everywhere in the United States… Through all of these challenging procedures that you’ve seen recently, I prefer to use the example David has provided me. There were two days in December that we could have flown Cat 1 Dallas and DFW wouldn’t have opened until 10 a.m., if only we could have flown Cat 1 Dallas.
That’s 400 cancellations if DFW doesn’t open until 10 a.m. And that’s assuming we were aware of it the night before. That is, assuming we don’t start launching aircraft and then divert… if we don’t cancel 400 mainline flights throughout this ordeal. Those were two very wonderful days of operations.
Beyond the functions of the Instrument Landing System, there is now a cause for worry.
Other sections of the aircraft make use of the altimeter… It has something to do with the heads-up display. If you’re worried about the usage of the altimater, we’re not going to be flying 777-300s into any impacted airport because Boeing has it connected to…help with tail strikes on the 777-300s, all kinds of stuff.
Parker made clear he doesn’t blame Verizon or AT&T at all, that they were doing what they were supposed to do. And that the FAA “only asked for 14 days” suggests they’re close to getting things done. There’s ultimately going to be no safety issue, the question is the extent to which airline operations or 5G deployment are limited in order to reach that outcome.
According to American’s Chief Operating Officer David Seymour, there will be a lot of testing to figure out where the problem is.
We don’t have total assurance that they won’t be affected, but we’re working with the OEMs and the FAA to make sure they’re certain they won’t be, so we can keep flying. Now that we have 50 secured airports, we only have them for six months, but during that time we will be able to perform a lot more testing and validation. And that’s the one thing we haven’t been able to do in the system, and we like to test a lot in aviation. We like reading a lot of paper, but we also enjoy doing some testing.
Seymour believes that flight attendants will eventually have to make notifications on board concerning passenger 5G devices, and that there may be restrictions on 5G equipment in checked luggage.
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