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Airlines’ 5G Solution Could be Retrofitting Altimeters

After the Federal Aviation Administration came to an 11th-hour agreement with AT&T and Verizon over 5G deployment across the United States, the long-term solution to commercial aircraft altimeter interference could be retrofitting or repairing the hardware.
The Federal Aviation Administration may have a solution to the potential 5G problem affecting commercial airports across the United States.


Reuters reports the agency will hold a meeting with key members of the airline and telecommunications industry on Wednesday, May 4, 2022, to suggest fixing altimeters could keep aircraft flying safely without interference from the spectrum expansion.


FAA to Suggest Timeline for Altimeter Retrofit

Although both the FAA and airlines were aware of AT&T and Verizon’s C-Band 5G deployment, the issue came to a head in 2022 when several aviation stakeholders petitioned the government for a delay on the spectrum activation. Adding bandwidth to the C-band radio spectrum between 3.7 GHz and 4.2GHz created concern that altimeters currently outfitted on commercial aircraft flying in the United States would be adversely affected. Estimates by Airlines for America suggested up to 100,000 flyers could be affected by delayed flights and cancellations daily by opening up the new frequencies.


After discussion, both AT&T and Verizon agreed to delay the deployment around certain airports until July 2022, giving air carriers and the FAA time to find a solution. According to the Reuters report, the FAA will suggest airlines solve the problem by retrofitting or repairing their currently installed altimeters.


In the memo seen by Reuters, the agency will suggest air carriers install antenna filters on aircraft potentially affected by the expansion. The first step is determining which aircraft are most susceptible to interference from the radio waves and determine a priority list for which airframes should get the parts first.


While the filter will provide a first step for ensuring commercial aircraft safety, it may not necessarily provide a permanent solution. In testimony to Congress, Transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg warned that the 5G altimeter interference issue may not be “completely resolved by this summer.”


Telecom Companies Say 5G Won’t Create Issues for Aircraft

Although both cellular communications providers are voluntarily working with the FAA to resolve altimeter interference issues, the companies previously said it may not create a safety issue. Previous statements from AT&T and Verizon claimed their expansion was in a spectrum already operational in France, providing proof for their argument that “The laws of physics are the same in the United States and France.”

DFW_Airwolf May 4, 2022

I would like to know WHY this has gone on for so long and comes down to the 11th hour. I know the ANSWER, Inept Politicians and Lazy Greedy Airline & Telcom Executives.

With my previous statement out of the way. Technology Advancement and Change is inevitable. This issue was realized a long time ago when 5g was being developed and then Rolled out. We should have started Repairing/Retrofitting Altimeters then. And started discussing WHO & HOW MUCH would be exchanged to make this happen. And it could have been done ALL by Memos within all the affected parties. Bit NO, Chief Executives wont doing anything that might impoact their Bonuses like spending $$$$$ to head off a problem. They just kick the can down the road and then play DUMB *or maybe they really arent playing at it). Anyway, Retrofit the Altimeters, get the 5g Carriers to kick in some $$$$$ and as usual our Slave Masters (The GOVT) will kick in a bunch more of our Servitude Taxes and waste most of up and eventually it will get dont. And in many years in the future, this all will be a foot note in Aviation History.