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Taking Flight on 5G

FAA says it intends to require 5G compliance from airlines by 2024

The Federal Aviation Administration is intending to order passenger and cargo aircraft install 5G-safe equipment on all airplanes by 2024, the agency said Monday. 

According to the FAA, 5G signals use frequencies that are closer to the ones used by radio altimeters, which determine the aircraft's height from the ground and are critically important when flying in bad weather. As a result, the agency found that these 5G signals can cause the altimeters to potentially issue incorrect flight data.

"Although they may seem minor in isolation such that some may consider them a mere nuisance, these warnings have safety implications over time," the FAA said in a statement obtained by Bloomberg"As the flight crew becomes more desensitized to erroneous warnings, they are less likely to react to an accurate warning, negating the safety benefits of the warning altogether and likely leading to a catastrophic incident."

As a result of these potential dangers, the agency is requiring all airlines to install 5G-approved technology on their planes. While the exact deadline was not given, Reuters reported that the FAA wants these safeguards fully in place by "early 2024."

While the FAA maintains that the American aviation industry is "the safest in the world," issues with 5G signals interfering with altimeters have led to delays at airports in the past.

In response to the FAA, aviation lobbying group Airlines for America said that airlines were "working diligently to ensure fleets are equipped with compliant radio altimeters, but global supply chains continue to lag behind current demand," adding, "any government deadline must consider this reality."