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5G and airplanes: the risks of flying checked

Ten of the largest airlines in the US have warned of an impending “economic disaster” ahead of the transition of 5G mobile phone service in the country.

Mobile networks AT&T and Verizon have agreed to delay the expansion of their service at some airports, expected to be turned on today, as airlines fear 5G signals could disrupt safety and navigation systems of some aircraft.

The executives of American Airlines, Delta, United and South West have written to the White House and air travel regulators to warn that disruptions to commercial air travel will be worse than recession. initially thought, potentially stranding “tens of thousands of Americans abroad” and causing “Chaos” for US airlines.

“Unless our main hubs are cleared to fly, the majority of commuting and public transit will essentially be grounded. This means that on a day like yesterday, more than 1,100 flights and 100,000 passengers will be canceled, diverted or delayed,” the executive wrote.

This is because “dozens” of major airports have a “buffer zone” designed to limit 5G meInterfering with aircraft will still be subject to flight restrictions announced by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) last week, said Sky News.

How could 5G disrupt US flights?

5G, the latest generation of mobile Internet connections, relies on “greater use of radio signals” explained BBC. In the United States, the radio signals used for 5G are part of a spectrum band known as the C-Band.

The broadcaster said that the frequencies 5G will use are close to those used by in-flight radio altimeters, which are used to “measure the altitude of aircraft above the ground, while providing data for navigation and safety systems,” the broadcaster said.

Airlines are concerned that interference from 5G transmissions could cause the altimeter to function properly, ultimately causing safety problems “especially while the plane is landing”.

How big is the risk?

In 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the agency that regulates the commercial use of radio spectrum in the United States, investigated the question of whether 5G transmitters near airports could cause radio interference. radar level or not and conclude “the two systems can work together”. report The Economist.

However, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the US agency responsible for air travel, disagrees, arguing that this could make flying unsafe, as does RTCA, the agency The agency provides technical guidance to pilots. It published a report warning of the possibility of “catastrophic failures leading to many deaths, in the absence of appropriate mitigation measures”.

Under a compromise between the FCC and the FAA, temporary 5G “buffer zones” around 50 airports have been established, where 5G providers have “restricted their operations”, the BBC said. But the airlines argued that the buffers were insufficient and “stated that 5G networks should not be activated at all within two miles of the affected airports”.

However, “most experts sympathize with the FCC” and its stance that 5G transmissions do not make flying unsafe, The Economist continued. “Similar 5G networks have been deployed in dozens of other countries, and the FAA admitted in November that there were no reports of problems.”

It added: “It’s hard to see how a relatively low-powered 5G network could pose a problem when much more powerful military search radars do not,” it added.

Are other countries concerned about 5G?

The concern is not great in other countries, as 5G can be deployed at different frequencies.

“Some countries are using 600 megahertz to 900 megahertz, no different from 4G. Some put it between 2.3 gigahertz and 4.7 gigahertz, which increases data rates somewhat. And others are using 24 gigahertz to 47 gigahertz, which requires more towers but offers even higher data rates,” explains New Scientist. “In many cases, a network will use a combination of these,” the magazine added.

In the EU, 5G networks operate at completely different frequencies from those used on airplanes, while in the US the frequency bands are much closer, so the risk of interference is greater.

In the UK, regulators and airlines are particularly worried. A safety notice released by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in December said “there have been no confirmed cases where 5G interference has resulted in aircraft system malfunction or unexpected behaviour”.

https://www.theweek.co.uk/news/world-news/us/955459/5g-and-planes-the-risk-to-flying-examined 5G and airplanes: the risks of flying checked

Fry Electronics Team

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