International airlines have asked governments to collaborate closely with the aviation sector to guarantee that existing aviation safety systems and new 5G services can coexist safely.
Only a coordinated strategy, according to the operators operating under the International Air Transport Association (IATA), would reduce hazards to airline operations.
Early this year, the deployment of 5G caused safety concerns, which caused some international airlines to stop operating flights into the United States, causing chaos in the aviation industry. Instead of mobile devices used by passengers, regulators and operators are concerned that 5G cellular antennae near some airports could affect readings from some aircraft equipment used to inform pilots of their altitude.
Operators consequently asked governments to collaborate closely with the aviation sector to ensure that existing aviation safety measures and new 5G services could coexist safely.
Maintaining present standards of safety for passengers, flight crews, and aircraft must continue to be one of governments’ top priority, even as IATA acknowledges the economic significance of making spectrum accessible to support next generation commercial wireless services.
Willie Walsh, the director general of IATA, stated that the industry must prevent a repetition of the recent events in the United States.
In fact, many nations have effectively implemented the essential mitigations to maintain aviation safety and uninterrupted services while accommodating the demands of 5G service providers. Brazil, Canada, France, and Thailand are a few examples, according to Walsh.
IATA urged governments to ensure close coordination and mutual understanding between national spectrum and aviation safety regulators before making any decisions about spectrum allocations or holding spectrum auctions so that each frequency allocation or assignment is thoroughly investigated and shown not to have a negative impact on aviation safety and efficiency. It is crucial to conduct thorough testing in collaboration with aviation subject matter experts in order to provide the essential data.
Some countries have already taken steps to assure rigorous testing, enough spectrum separation between 5G C-band deployments, and compatibility with the 4.2-4.4 GHz frequency band utilized by current radio altimeters.
The maximum power restriction for 5G C-band transmission should be clearly codified and enforced, and 5G antennas should be angled downward, especially along flight routes. the creation of adequate 5G C-band exclusion zones and safety zones surrounding airports.
IATA noted that airlines operating to, from, and within the U.S. are still dealing with the effects of the deployment of 5G, including a pending airworthiness directive from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requiring them to upgrade/retrofit radio altimeters at their own cost to allow the corresponding aircraft to continue using CAT II and CAT III low-visibility approaches at many U.S. airports where 5G C-Band service is currently or will be deployed in the future.
Concerns include the cost of these investments, the lack of knowledge regarding the future spectrum environment, and the timely availability of improved altimeters. By December 2023, 19 more telecoms providers are expected to roll out 5G networks.
“It is very disheartening and impractical that the FAA has unilaterally decided to demand airlines to replace or improve their current radio altimeters by July 2023, even though these devices have already received approval from the FAA and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. Both the systems vendors and the FAA have been unable to predict with precision when the necessary equipment will be made available for the majority of the fleet. The FAA has not even approved or certified all the safety solutions that it will require. So how can the timing be trusted in any way?
“Furthermore, the FAA cannot ensure that airlines won’t need to upgrade their radio altimeters going forward as even more potent 5G networks are introduced. Our top concern is safety, but we can’t get there with this hurried approach. In order to identify solutions and timetables that take into account reality, the FAA must continue working cooperatively and honestly with all stakeholders, including the FCC and the telecom industry, Walsh said.