5G vs Airplanes

βhyde

Super Anarchist
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Saw a news story about possible problems with 5g C-band interfering with commercial/civil aviation. So I looked into what was going on and was mildly surprised and concerned by what the FAA is saying.

An AD is being issued that basically says that at certain locations you can't use your radar altimeter and related system. That seem concerning. 

Here is the proposed AD: https://www.faa.gov/sites/faa.gov/files/2021-12/FRC_Document_AD-2021-01169-T-D.pdf

And here is the part of the AD that really caught my eye:

Screen Shot 2022-01-01 at 5.22.17 PM.png

So help me out here. I can't use ILS if there is 5g C-band interference in the area? Wouldn't that mean most metro areas and affect most every flight in those areas during crappy weather? That seems like a pretty steep price to pay just to watch cat videos.

 

Throatwarbler-Mangrove

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New England
Best way to explain it is that it is like buying a piece of property for $80 billion and finding that it is occupied by squatters who keep taking you to court to stop you from using the property you paid for.

Greater experts than I can debate whether some radio altimeters are insufficiently immune to out-of-band interference. I have heard no evidence of such a thing. But the idea that a valuable chunk of spectrum cannot be put to use because somebody underengineered a device that is licensed to operate in a different band is not only unfair to Verizon and AT&T, but also undermines the FCC’s stewardship of a scarce and precious resource. It’s a freaking mess and I hope that the avionics manufacturers get held accountable.

 

Ventucky Red

Super Anarchist
10,876
991
Saw a news story about possible problems with 5g C-band interfering with commercial/civil aviation. So I looked into what was going on and was mildly surprised and concerned by what the FAA is saying.

An AD is being issued that basically says that at certain locations you can't use your radar altimeter and related system. That seem concerning. 

Here is the proposed AD: https://www.faa.gov/sites/faa.gov/files/2021-12/FRC_Document_AD-2021-01169-T-D.pdf

And here is the part of the AD that really caught my eye:

View attachment 482776

So help me out here. I can't use ILS if there is 5g C-band interference in the area? Wouldn't that mean most metro areas and affect most every flight in those areas during crappy weather? That seems like a pretty steep price to pay just to watch cat videos.
Are you flying the type of equipment that is addressed in this AD? And if so are you a Child of the Magenta Line?

If you have a pressure altimeter there is no interference, and from what I understand even the new 787s comes equipped with a pressure altimeter.   Just as the folks flying Etihad 787-10 into Aba Daba Do this past summer that almost screwed the pooch. 

Though, I do find this interesting as just recently LAX bragged about upgrading the terminals to 5G:

https://airportscouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/bit-session3-moore.pdf

 

kent_island_sailor

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Saw a news story about possible problems with 5g C-band interfering with commercial/civil aviation. So I looked into what was going on and was mildly surprised and concerned by what the FAA is saying.

An AD is being issued that basically says that at certain locations you can't use your radar altimeter and related system. That seem concerning. 

Here is the proposed AD: https://www.faa.gov/sites/faa.gov/files/2021-12/FRC_Document_AD-2021-01169-T-D.pdf

And here is the part of the AD that really caught my eye:

View attachment 482776

So help me out here. I can't use ILS if there is 5g C-band interference in the area? Wouldn't that mean most metro areas and affect most every flight in those areas during crappy weather? That seems like a pretty steep price to pay just to watch cat videos.
You can use the ILS all you want to, but you can't do any approaches that require a radar altimeter. For me that is no factor, I don't even have one. For airliners that use them for autoland and/or shooting approaches below the standard minimums, this is a huge deal.

 

kent_island_sailor

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Are you flying the type of equipment that is addressed in this AD? And if so are you a Child of the Magenta Line?

If you have a pressure altimeter there is no interference, and from what I understand even the new 787s comes equipped with a pressure altimeter.   Just as the folks flying Etihad 787-10 into Aba Daba Do this past summer that almost screwed the pooch. 

Though, I do find this interesting as just recently LAX bragged about upgrading the terminals to 5G:

https://airportscouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/bit-session3-moore.pdf
ALL airplanes come with pressure altimeters, that is not the issue. I don't even own a radar altimeter, I won't notice it not working if I don't have it :rolleyes:

The problem is you cannot do certain types of approaches without one, so for one example the minimums to fly an ILS approach are higher without one. I can't do a Cat II or III anyway, so I am used to going elsewhere when the weather gets that low, but airlines count on being able to do II and III and not doing so will disrupt their operations.

https://www.avweb.com/insider/is-a-5g-showdown-looming/

Failure of the radar altimeter is not something to be taken lightly. It not only determines decision height for an instrument approach, it’s the primary source of altitude information for Cat 2 and Cat 3 approaches. If that function can’t be guaranteed, the FAA must regulate that it can’t be used. If there’s even a chance that the cell signals will cause the radar altimeter to fail at a critical moment, which is just about all the time the altimeter is in use, there’s a significant threat to flight safety.

That raises the specter of a ban on Cat 2 and Cat 3 approaches at airports within range of 5G transmitters. On Dec. 5, that will be 46 of the country’s largest metropolitan areas. The mind boggles at the potential consequences given the weather much of the country has been having lately. And within a few years, 5G will be everywhere if the telecoms have their way.

For its part, the FCC says the threat is minimal and it should be up to the aviation industry to deal with the potential interference. Apparently there are ways to harden radar altimeters to shrug off stray cellphone energy and the FCC is of the view that the cost of retrofitting the fleet should be borne by the aircraft operators. That attitude has naturally galvanized aviation into a rare block of unanimity against the rollout.

 

kent_island_sailor

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Kent Island!
Best way to explain it is that it is like buying a piece of property for $80 billion and finding that it is occupied by squatters who keep taking you to court to stop you from using the property you paid for.

Greater experts than I can debate whether some radio altimeters are insufficiently immune to out-of-band interference. I have heard no evidence of such a thing. But the idea that a valuable chunk of spectrum cannot be put to use because somebody underengineered a device that is licensed to operate in a different band is not only unfair to Verizon and AT&T, but also undermines the FCC’s stewardship of a scarce and precious resource. It’s a freaking mess and I hope that the avionics manufacturers get held accountable.
On the most basic level, this is quite true. If your VHF can't tell channel 15 and channel 16 apart because it sucks, then don't sue me to stop me talking on 15, get a better radio :rolleyes: In real life this is quite tricky, replacing every radar altimeter at once with a new interference-proof version that *does not yet exist* will not be easy or cheap. We have had similar issues with GPS, there have been attempts by companies to use spectrum in such a way that would jam a huge percentage of existing GPS units that so far have not passed. Both radar altimeters and GPS receivers got designed back when there were no neighbors, so they didn't use double-pane glass or even put any locks on the screen doors. Now what was wide-open country is in the middle of the city :eek:

 

Ed Lada

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Poland
Are you flying the type of equipment that is addressed in this AD? And if so are you a Child of the Magenta Line?

If you have a pressure altimeter there is no interference, and from what I understand even the new 787s comes equipped with a pressure altimeter.   Just as the folks flying Etihad 787-10 into Aba Daba Do this past summer that almost screwed the pooch. 

Though, I do find this interesting as just recently LAX bragged about upgrading the terminals to 5G:

https://airportscouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/bit-session3-moore.pdf
Did you watch the Blanoclirio video I posted?  All 30 minutes of it?  It explains the issues clearly and in detail.

I know you fly GA aircraft, but this guy was an Air Force pilot and now flies Boeing triple 7s for a living and he did a lot of research for this video.  For example it isn't just radar altimeters that can experience interference, and it affects commercial aviation far more than GA.  It's a real issue with a lot of ramifications.  It might not cause any competent commercial cockpit crew to crash, but it can cause many problems when many planes on final will have to do a go around because of an instrument glitch right before they land, among other things.

The GA people have no trouble regularly crashing their planes and dying already, and most of them fly VFR with basic instruments anyway. This issue is a big concern for part 121 operations, affecting millions of people.  The 500,000 or so part 91 pilots and their occasional passengers are obviously insignificant compared the number of people flying commercially daily.  

 

Windward

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While I've not yet watched Ed's video.  Didn't we do this whole exact scenario with cell phones when they first became popular? 

 
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Ed Lada

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Poland
But the idea that a valuable chunk of spectrum cannot be put to use because somebody underengineered a device that is licensed to operate in a different band is not only unfair to Verizon and AT&T, but also undermines the FCC’s stewardship of a scarce and precious resource. It’s a freaking mess and I hope that the avionics manufacturers get held accountable.
Your post sounds like all of this is simple and radar altimeters were invented last year.  Radio altimeters were in use long before 5G was a thing, probably long before anybody even thought about 5G for cell phone frequencies.  So are you saying the airlines should be liable just because a relatively new technology suddenly elbows it's way on to the scene and is worth hundreds of billions of dollars in future income and the  airlines can just go pound salt?  Why are it the avionics manufactures at fault for not making allowances for any future possibility?  No profitable company is going to overdesign already complex devices for any future possibility, that's just ludicrous.

How does it undermine the FCCs stewardship?  They control the frequency spectrum however I don't think it's in their charter to allocate new frequencies to newcomers who are paying billions, at the expense of the folks who have been using adjacent frequencies without problems for many years.

As the commercial spectrum frequencies get used more and more, and the useful frequencies aren't in infinite supply, these problems will get worse and worse.  And when the ultimate object is profit, not utility, things will get uglier and uglier.  You are treating this like it's a simple problem and the telecoms should get whatever they want. 

By what you've said here, I am starting to wonder if you don't have some vested interest in the telecom industry, but you don't sound very objective to me.  Are you a Verizon lobbyist?  Do you work in PR for ATT&T?  Because to me you sound like a telecom corporate shill.

If you want to expound on what you said and provide facts and links, to support your view, I am willing to listen.  Otherwise I will stick to my theory.

 

Ed Lada

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While I've not yet watched Ed's video.  Didn't we do this whole exact scenario with cell phones when they first became popular? 
Yeah, but not to this extent.  With the huge rise in demand for the communication spectrum, this problem will only get worse and worse.  There are only so many useful frequencies available. Of course at some point new technology will eventually solve the problem, but the demand is growing far faster than the time it takes to develop ground breaking technology.  

It's like the huge amounts of satellites in space today.  When Sputnik was launched in the 1950s, space was empty of man made objects.  The idea that infinite space could get crowded was probably no concern to anyone in the fledgling aero space industry  There is a relatively small amount relatively economical low earth orbit space available and it's getting crowded.  Rocket launches nowadays have to plan trajectories to avoid active and inactive satellites, and old satellites can take years for their orbits to degrade enough to renter the atmosphere.  Remember just recently the ISS had to move to dodge some space junk.  

The demand for more and more useful high tech devices is growing far faster than the ability to find new and innovative ways to economically find room for anything, be it the communication portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, or the available room for space based objects.  The same applies to rare earth elements, and many other things.  Of course an unlimited supply of money for R&D could solve all of the problems, but that's not possible.  To put it in simple terms, it's somewhat analogous to a low income family with 4 rapidly growing teenage boys, trying to keep their kids clothed, let alone in the latest fashions. 

I'm by no means saying I am some kind of genius, but when I was in the 7th grade in the late 1960s, I wrote a paper for a science class about what was modern technology at the time, and mans adaptability, vs the state of the natural world and it's finite resources.  In my closing argument I used the analogy that mankind vs the world we live in was like a kid (mankind) running down a hill pulling a wagon behind him.  At some point on the steep hill (the earth), the inertia of the wagon (technology) would overcome the maximum speed of the kid's ability to run and the wagon would nip at his heels and ultimately cause him to crash and burn.  Little did I know how right I was.  I wish I would have saved my little essay, maybe I was some kind of young prodigy!   :lol:

 

Ventucky Red

Super Anarchist
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991
Did you watch the Blanoclirio video I posted?  All 30 minutes of it?  It explains the issues clearly and in detail.

I know you fly GA aircraft, but this guy was an Air Force pilot and now flies Boeing triple 7s for a living and he did a lot of research for this video.  For example it isn't just radar altimeters that can experience interference, and it affects commercial aviation far more than GA.  It's a real issue with a lot of ramifications.  It might not cause any competent commercial cockpit crew to crash, but it can cause many problems when many planes on final will have to do a go around because of an instrument glitch right before they land, among other things.

The GA people have no trouble regularly crashing their planes and dying already, and most of them fly VFR with basic instruments anyway. This issue is a big concern for part 121 operations, affecting millions of people.  The 500,000 or so part 91 pilots and their occasional passengers are obviously insignificant compared the number of people flying commercially daily.  

Go read up on the GBAS landing system.

 

kent_island_sailor

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Go read up on the GBAS landing system.
GBAS is the old DGPS system using VHF instead of MF datalink. It is a good idea and might one day replace the radar altimeter. If you have a fleet of airplanes, technology that may roll out in the future is not helping when you need something that works next week. In the long run it could be the answer, in the short run it isn't here yet for CAT II/III approaches.

* tech note - GPS is only so accurate even when not intentionally degraded. DGPS used fixed stations that obviously knew where they were to broadcast corrections on MF frequencies (about 200-400 KHz). The system worked, but then we got WAAS, which is the same idea but broadcast via satellite. It too works well, but not quite as good as a correction from exactly where you are landing. GBAS is the old DGPS done on VHF with presumably much better corrections.

 

Ventucky Red

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GBAS is the old DGPS system using VHF instead of MF datalink. It is a good idea and might one day replace the radar altimeter. If you have a fleet of airplanes, technology that may roll out in the future is not helping when you need something that works next week. In the long run it could be the answer, in the short run it isn't here yet for CAT II/III approaches.
It is already standard equipment on the 787, 747-8, and an option on the 737 and many of the Airbus family.  Boeing has also stated that many customers are asking for this to be installed on all new aircraft. Additionally, it has already been in use at Newark and Bush International by both Delta and United, not to mention many of the other locations and carriers worldwide.

Cat II and III capability are just around the corner...  I believe it is being tested somewhere in the hinterlands...

 

Mrleft8

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I recall that the FAA prohibited all cell phone and "electronic device" use when cell phones were new.... The idea was that the signals might interfere with navigation systems. Turns out that was all bull shit, the airlines just thought that having a bunch of pretentious assholes yapping in the cabin annoying other passengers might be dangerous to the flight crew....

 So after a few years of debunking, "Airplane mode" was instituted. Mostly, pretentious assholes are texting now, not talking. It's brats with their games on their I-phones that are the biggest annoyance now.

 

Ed Lada

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It is already standard equipment on the 787, 747-8, and an option on the 737 and many of the Airbus family.  Boeing has also stated that many customers are asking for this to be installed on all new aircraft. Additionally, it has already been in use at Newark and Bush International by both Delta and United, not to mention many of the other locations and carriers worldwide.

Cat II and III capability are just around the corner...  I believe it is being tested somewhere in the hinterlands...
Did  you actually watch the video I posted?  It doesn't appear that you did.  Brown is a 777 pilot.  He knows WTF he's talking about and he goes into great detail about the problem.  There is no easy fix for it.  It isn't rocket surgery but isn't kindergarten easy either.  No offense to you, but I think he knows a bit more about this problem than you do and he did a lot of research to make that video.

 
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