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AT&T, Verizon offer to limit 5G power over aircraft safety concerns

In a rare move to avoid a potential conflict with the Federal Aviation Administration, AT&T and Verizon say they will limit the power output of their 5G cell towers for a period of six months while the agency investigates the effects of C-band spectrum on aircraft safety systems. According to The Wall Street Journal, the carriers made the offer on Wednesday in a letter they sent to the Federal Communications Commission. ( More...

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Anthony Fiti 6
The thing that bothers me about this is that it only came up at the (relatively) last minute. Plus there are 40 other countries around the world who use 5G in similar frequencies near radio altimeters and we haven’t heard a peep until now.

What I think will happen is that the few models of cheap radio altimeters who have legit problems will be recalled/deemed no longer airworthy and then there will be a fight over who has to pay for replacements.

Honestly I think it’s the aviation industry trying to get the communication. Industry to pay for some upgrades. Which is kind of sad. But it’s how things seem to work. Had Biden not taken forever to nominate people to the FCC/NTIA this blow up would have been avoided.

(I’m both a aviation nerd and a cell phone nerd so I see both sides of the discussion)
As a 737 pilot and ham radio operator, I agree with you completely. Radio altimetry as implemented in aircraft is an obsolescent technology, long overdue for an update. International data thus far have identified no significant systemic problems and I doubt there will be any here.

In particular, we need to let go of two arguments that are floating around the aviation community:

In the very worst of instances, all it would take would be a busted 777 and a bunch of banged up pax from a runway excursion on a Cat III landing to change the mind of even the most recalcitrant FCC commissioner or member of Congress.

What a silly statement (shame on you, Juan Browne). If that argument prevailed, radio amateurs could operate spark gap transmitters all over the airwaves. We were here first!

Let's all settle down, stop doing the pee-pee dance, and see what empirical studies reveal.
Jim Smirh -2
Which is more important: 1: A probable loss of life or 2: A (or even several) slower call? A "a busted 777 and a bunch of banged up pax" is far from the "very worst case". What happened the last time some 'large corporation' claimed 'there is no problem with this aircraft it will fly just like the earlier model'?
You didn't quite get my point, Jim. I'm sure we all understand that a loaded 380 going into Yankee Stadium during the 7th game of the World Series would be a more catastrophic event than a 777 runway excursion. I thought it pretty clear that a damaged aircraft and some injured passengers would be sufficient to bring about revision of the a poor decision If one were made. Catastrophic loss of life would not be required.

As to Boeing and the 737 Max, I pilot that aircraft on a regular basis. Like virtually every 737 pilot, I know the location of the stab trim override switches and how to use them. It is absolutely tragic that a couple of pilots forgot or never learned how to respond to a trim overrun. Boeing made serious errors regarding MCAS. Not even Boeing denies that. Still, it seems quite a stretch to assert that those errors are analogous to the 5G controversy.
Jim Smirh 1
While the radio altimeter is used in other than Cat III approaches, it is exactly the proximity to the ground that makes errors with this item critical. As Jaun pointed out, if BOTH altimeters sense the SAME erroneous DATA, the system does not alert the crew nor disconnect the AP (at least in the 777). I don't think we can assume the AP is "smart" enough to NOT change any of the 3 axise's at too high a rate and NOT to also affect the first part of the go-around. I can only remember executing one actual CAT IIIa approach once. That was enough for me! 😁 I just don't have as much trust in any company with no 'skin in the game'. Hope all your takeoffs have great landings! 👍
No argument from me, Jim. If it were up to me, there would be no 5G. We need it like a fish needs a bicycle. My son's Instagram is plenty fast enough, thank you, no matter what he thinks.

My point was that we have no empirical data at this time other than that from other nations. Those international data have thus far failed to indicate a problem. Rather than imagining horrid outcomes, would it not be better to get busy on empirical research to see how likely it is that an adverse outcome could occur? 5G is not going away. No matter how strenuously we object, it is upon us. Nor (and I acknowledge that this is a debateable point) is it entirely the responsibility of Telecom. We're using out of date equipment. We need to light a fire under manufacturers to build receivers with high selectivity (brick wall filters have been around a long time). Then we need to kindle a larger fire under the FAA to expedite the testing and approval process for new equipment. It can take a year to get approval for a new pylon bolt. That's absurd.

Finger pointing and awfulizing accomplish nothing other than getting our adrenaline pumping.

Re your experiences, I can relate. I have made two or three Cat III landings and I wholeheartedly agree that they are no fun at all. They remind me acutely that if there is a mishap, I'm going to be the first on scene.

"Thank you for choosing Agony Airlines and would one of the FAs please bring two clean pairs of pants to the cockpit."
Joe Keifer 5
They may lose customers if they start dropping calls due to reducing their 5G signals too low and then they will be forced to reconsider their move.

The two radio services should never have been allowed to be that close in the first place.
JJ Johnson 4
Everything you want to know and then some
Carl Richter 2
I know it's that latest, greatest, new thing on the block but is it really necessary for most people? All bandwidths are being congested and overlapped. Time to rethink these technologies. Maybe time to rethink land based "hard" technologies. Less prone to disruptions from EMP's of any origin, any sources, any other technologies and developing techniques to corrupt the more vulnerable electronic/satellite technolgies.
Once more, we in the US do what the Europeans could care less about doing in the name of “safety”.
James Simms 1
For What It’s Worth, 5G also interferes w/weather radar as well
ADS-B requirement for all aircraft is a possible solution. All ADS-B info sent to Starlink, then relayed to ARTCC and ATC facilities. Biden's infrastructure bill could pay for the general aviation users. Just my humble opinion.
I just had a thought. Assuming the transmitters in our radio altimeters are as out of date as our receivers, we may well spill over into 5G. If we could use that as a carrier and modulate cockpit audio on it, imagine the fun:

"So then I told Jimmy that if he thought FIFTY FORTY THIRTY TWENTY RETARD RETARD..."

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

DaveRK 5
Please explain, is there a link to a study of that "technology" you can provide?
Jan Mathews 6
Please refer to the RTCA document posted earlier in these comments. There are legitimate concerns that TCAS, auto land, GPWS, and wind shear alert systems can be compromised. Also, follow the money.
Jim Smirh 1
Either avionik99 is being sarcastic or he is referring to the "rebuttal" by the giant, rich telecommunications conglomerates and their lobbyists. For a slightly more detailed and aviation safety view (with links to all the studies mentioned) please view this video by Jaun Brown (777 F/O):
Mark Kortum 3
avionik99 trusts his government.
linbb 1
So then why are they worried about it or are you just shooting your mouth off? If there was no problem then there would be no wait on getting it turned on. There was another outfit that they just about caused all GPS devices problems if not modified. That almost wen the full route before they got it stopped.
Thomas Craig 2
Lighten up Linob. Thanks for your info.
He does not know how to lighten up.


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