LAURIE BARATTI | TravelPulse.Com
According to Bloomberg, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has said it’s making headway in reducing the risk of 5G wireless signals interfering with aircraft navigation systems.
Still, possible threats posed to air safety have also prompted it to issue nearly 1,500 orders restricting flight operations all around the country.
Last month, U.S. aviation regulators issued a warning that the imminent launch of new, faster 5G-spectrum communications signals could disrupt aircraft instrumentation.
Although wireless companies claim that the new service creates no aviation hazards, tests conducted by the FAA and aerospace organizations indicate that the onboard electronic systems that calculate altitude could be affected if planes fly too close to 5G towers.
The FAA cautioned that “radio altimeter anomalies that are undetected by the aircraft automation or pilot, particularly close to the ground…could lead to loss of continued safe flight and landing.”
In early December, the FAA issued directives requiring that airplane and helicopter flight manuals be revised to, “prohibit some operations requiring radio altimeter data when in the presence of 5G C-Band wireless broadband signals.”
Last week, telecommunication giants AT&T and Verizon reached an agreement with U.S. officials, consenting to delay 5G activation until January 19, while agencies assess the potential threats to flight safety. The communications companies also agreed to limit the installation of cell towers near 50 U.S. airports for six months, at a minimum.
Even given these last-minute concessions, the FAA has continued to express concern that the new breed of wireless service will disrupt aircraft equipment calculations. The agency said in a statement issued on Wednesday night that such concerns require it to place limitations on flight operations until it’s proven that they remain safe amid the 5G rollout. The agency said that it expects to soon be able to offer information on what percentage of planes will be subject to such restrictions.
On Thursday, the FAA began sending out orders, called ‘Notices to Air Missions’ (NOTAMs), notifying all flight operations personnel of the new constraints. A total of 1,462 directives were issued to 50 airports and other areas expected to be affected by 5G signals. Pilots landing at one of the impacted airports might, for example, be forbidden to use certain low-visibility instrumentation and procedures when landing, at least until aircraft manufacturers can prove that the equipment operates safely and reliably amid 5G.
At the same time, the FAA said that it has, “made progress to safely reduce the risk of delays and cancellations, as wireless companies share more data and manufacturer altimeter testing results arrive.”