Federal safety officials are directing operators of some Boeing planes to assume different procedures when landing on wet or snowy runways around impending 5G service because, they tell, interference from the wireless networks could suggest that the planes require more room to land.
Federal Aviation Administration
The Federal Aviation Administration told Friday that interference could delay systems like thrust reversers on Boeing 787s from kicking in, leaving only the brakes to slow the aircraft.
That “could control an aircraft from stopping on the runway,” the FAA said.
Alike demands could be given in the coming days for other planes. The FAA has requested Boeing and Airbus for knowledge around many models. Boeing told it is operating with its suppliers, airlines, telecom companies, and regulators “to confirm that every commercial airplane model can safely and confidently work when 5G is implemented in the United States.”
The order for the Boeing jets arrives a day after the FAA started giving restrictions that airlines and other aircraft operators will face at many airports when AT&T and Verizon launch new, faster 5G wireless service Wednesday.
The agency is still studying whether those wireless networks will interfere with altimeters, which measure an aircraft’s height outside the ground. Data from altimeters are operated to help pilots land when visibility is poor.
Federal Communications Commission say 5G networks
The devices work on a portion of the radio spectrum that is close to the range used by the new 5G service, called C-Band.
This week’s FAA actions are part of a larger fight between the aviation regulator and the telecom industry. The telecom companies and the Federal Communications Commission tell 5G networks do not pose a threat to aviation. The FAA tells more study is required.
The FAA is conducting tests to know how many commercial planes have altimeters that might be vulnerable to spectrum interference. The agency told this week it hopes to estimate the percentage of those aircraft soon, but didn’t set a date on it.
“Aircraft with untested altimeters or that need retrofitting or replacement will be unable to perform low-visibility landings where 5G is deployed,” the agency told in a report.
Boeing 787s covers 137 planes
The FAA told that based on data from Boeing, the 787s might not move properly from flying to landing mode if there is interference, which could delay the activation of systems that support slow the plane.
AT&T and Verizon have twice agreed to delay activating their latest networks because of concerns increased by aviation groups and the FAA, most recently after the FAA and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg weighed in on the aviation industry’s side.
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Buttigieg and FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson warned that flights could be canceled or diverted to avoid potential safety risks.
Under a deal with the telecom companies, the FAA-designated 50 airports that will have buffer zones in which the companies will turn off 5G transmitters or make other changes to limit potential interference through before July.
The 50 include the three major airports in the New York City area — LaGuardia, JFK, and Newark Liberty — O’Hare and Midway in Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth International, Bush Intercontinental in Houston, Los Angeles International, and San Francisco.
That concession by the telecoms was modeled after an approach operated in France, although the FAA told last week that France needs more dramatic reductions in cell tower reach near airports.
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