We’ve heard a lot about 5G and airplane interference in the news this week and I want to break down the issue as simply as possible. Put simply, the entire controversy is government dysfunction at its finest and there is not one shred of evidence that new 5G networks will jam aircraft radio signals or cause any other kind of flight disruptions.
5G + Airplane Interference
In a nutshell:
- The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are using 1950s technology to put forward concerns of interference from 5G
- But modern airplanes are totally shielded from such interference
- More than 30 countries are already using the spectrum with no impact to air travel or safety
- The FCC sold $80 billion of (C-Band) spectrum to mobile carriers fully understanding the bands at play
- Now the same government agency that sold the spectrum is saying it too dangerous to use it
- The wireless carriers already agreed to give the radio altimeter spectrum a much larger buffer than other countries have given, but that has not pacified regulators
- Government dysfunction at its finest…your tax dollars at work
The FAA is concerned that 5G service might interfere with aircraft radio altimeters. Radio altimeters measure altitude by measuring how long it takes to bounce radio waves from the aircraft to the ground and back to the aircraft.
There is concern that if radio altimeters are deemed compromised, airlines will have to rely upon older visual cues. So in a case of bad weather, if pilots could not see the runway in a 5G area, they would need to find another airport to land…or cancel the flight.
Scott Kirby, the CEO of United Airlines, said:
“If we go back to decades-old procedures and technology for flying airplanes, cancel thousands of flights per day…it will be a catastrophic failure of government.”
The good news is that airlines and wireless carriers are in constant contact with federal government regulators. There is hope that the issue can be resolved before the planned rollout of 5G on January 5th by Verizon and AT&T at a higher spectrum.
But the bottom line is this: there is no proven evidence that 5G causes flight interference. Quite the contrary, nations around the world have introduced 5G and there has not been as single documented case of a radio altimeter malfunctioning or any other flight tool not working as intended that can be traced to 5G.
While a November 2nd FAA bulletin warns of 5G’s “potential adverse effects on radio altimeters,” it adds even in countries which allow 5G transmissions above the FCC-set 3.98 GHz, there have been “no proven reports of harmful interference.”
Sometimes acting “out of an abundance of caution” becomes a stumbling block that inhibits progress over unfounded fears. That seems to be the case when it come to the rollout of 5G, with the same regulators who sold the spectrum now concerned it is too dangerous to use, despite a plethora of evidence that suggests otherwise.
There exists no viable evidence to suggest that 5G is unsafe for airplanes.