FAA Modifies Landing Requirements for Boeing 737
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) continues investigating the interaction between 5G wireless services and airport landing and takeoff operations. Recently, the agency changed the landing requirements for certain Boeing 737 aircraft in some airports to prevent potential 5G interference.
“The FAA issued the AD because many systems on Boeing 737 aircraft rely on the radio altimeter, including autothrottle, ground proximity warning, thrust reversers and Traffic Collision Avoidance System. The [airworthiness directive] AD affects approximately 2,442 airplanes in the US and 8,342 worldwide and is effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register,” reads an FAA’s press release.
The FAA explains via its 5G and Aviation Safety Page that the recent 5G deployment involves new combinations of power levels, frequencies, proximity to flight operations, and other factors. These new operations oblige the administration to place some restrictions on flight operations that use certain types of radio altimeter equipment close to antennas with 5G networks. There are currently 20 altimeters approved by the FAA in the US that allow approximately 90 percent of the country’s commercial fleet to perform adequately but some altimeters will have to be retrofitted or replaced.
The deployment of 5G technology has also raised concerns among airlines, as Dave Calhoun, CEO, Boeing, and Jeffrey Knittel, CEO, Airbus Americas, asked through a joint letter to US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to postpone AT&T and Verizon’s deployment of C-Band spectrum 5G wireless, which was scheduled for Jan. 5, 2022. The letter argued that "5G interference could adversely affect the ability of aircraft to safely operate," leading to "an enormous negative impact on the aviation industry," as reported by MBN.
Mexico is also preparing to deploy 5G technology across the country. The Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT) announced via a press release, “Telcel will be able to put into operation the largest 5G commercial network in Latin America, with which our country is at the forefront in the deployment of fifth generation mobile services.” However, local authorities do not fear the potential interference of 5G in takeoff and landing operations because Mexican airports use different frequencies than their US counterparts.