FAA asks US airlines to address risks from 5G network expansion

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has asked US airlines to address risks from the expansion of 5G mobile network, in a bid to avoid potential disruptions at key airports.
flight experienceActing FAA Administrator Billy Nolen said in a letter that AT&T and Verizon want to enhance coverage of 5G network services on C-Band spectrum around some airports starting in July after previously delaying their rollout, Reuters news report said.

Billy Nolen urged airlines to urgently press ahead with retrofitting radio altimeters, saying there are no guarantees that all large markets will retain the current safeguards.

As wireless carriers boost 5G signals some less capable aircraft may be unable to access certain airports without altimeter retrofits, Billy Nolen said.

Airlines CEOs on Jan. 17 had warned of an aviation crisis that could have grounded almost all traffic because of the 5G network deployment.

AT&T and Verizon earlier agreed to delay through July 5 switching on some 5G telecom towers and depowering others near airports before the planned Jan. 19 deployment.

FAA has been urging airlines to complete retrofits of some airplane radio altimeters that could face interference from 5G wireless service on C-Band spectrum by the end of 2022.

FAA said it is in the early stages of working with AT&T and Verizon to identify markets where either a new tower or an increase in signal power will cause the least disruption. Verizon and AT&T plan to pursue a full rollout of their 5G networks by the end of 2023.

Verizon said it was working with FAA, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and aviation industry, and was confident it would achieve robust deployment of C-Band without significant disruptions to the traveling public.

Airlines for America, an industry trade group representing American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and others, said the industry recognized the need to implement a permanent solution, while continuing to ensure the highest level of safety.

Some airlines have raised concerns about paying to retrofit altimeters only to face paying for a replacement in a few years.