US FAA Says Disruptions to Flights Still Possible Due to 5G Despite Deal With AT&T, Verizon
© AP Photo / Elaine ThompsonFILE - In this April 23, 2013 file photo, a United Airlines jet departs in view of the air traffic control tower at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle
© AP Photo / Elaine Thompson
America's top network operators earlier agreed to delay the deployment of 5G and to take certain precautions in its deployment near airports to avoid affecting sensitive equipment of airplanes.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a warning that the launch of 5G networks might result in disruptions of flights in the country, despite the contingencies undertaken in 50 airports to prevent that. The agency cites differences between the precautions taken at US airports and those taken in France as the reason for the concerns.
"If there’s the possibility of a risk to the flying public, we are obligated to pause the activity, until we can prove it is safe. Radar altimeters still must be proven safe in the overall U.S. 5G environment to fly into these airports."
Both countries introduced buffer zones, preventing 5G signals from affecting aircraft equipment, such as altimeters. However, while in France the buffer covers the first 96 seconds of flight, in the US it only covers 20 seconds, the FAA said. In addition, lower power levels for 5G signal transmitters are 2.5 times higher than those permitted in France near airports, the agency stressed.
French authorities also directed that 5G antennas be tilted downward to further reduce the effect on airplane equipment, while there is no such requirement in the US, the FAA said.
As a result, US airports risk facing flight disruptions "during low visibility", which will prompt "flight cancellations, diverted flights, and delays".
The FAA struck a deal on 3 January with the country's biggest network operators, AT&T and Verizon, so that they would delay the deployment of C-Band spectrum in 5G networks by two weeks and introduce buffer zones at 50 American airports. The number of airports was limited at the network operators' request.
The agency said on its website that it still is going to make use of the delay to 5G's full launch to evaluate how different aircraft equipment reacts to 5G network waves and thus determine which steps need to be taken to prevent disruptions in the future.