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    April 1, 2022

    The status of 5G and aviation safety

    In telecommunications, 5G is the fifth-generation technology standard for broadband networks, and is successor to the 4G which today provide connectivity to most current mobile phones. 

    The 5G entails improved and updated communication technologies, as well as the use of new frequency bands and larger bandwidths, and it can tackle more sectors and challenges than previous generations.

    It is paving the way for a fully digitalized and connected world and will ultimately change the way we work and live. When it is gradually being implemented in various sectors, some worries about negative effects are emerging, such as in the aviation industry.


    One is concerned that radio signals from newly activated wireless telecommunications systems may interfere with flight operations. The 5G services use frequencies close to those used by radio altimeters which is an important part of safety equipment in aircrafts.

    Because a new combination of power levels, frequencies, proximity to flight operations, and other factors, aviation authorities, such as the
    FAA in USA, are imposing restrictions on flight operations using certain types of radio altimeter equipment close to antennas in 5G networks. 

    Radio altimeters provide highly accurate information about an aircraft’s height above the ground. Data from these altimeters informs other safety equipment on the plane, including navigation instruments, terrain awareness, and collision-avoidance systems, which are especially vital for low-visibility landings.

    The international aviation- and telecommunication industries, and their regulators, have been discussing and weighing these interference concerns for years, but 5G has intensified the sharing of information between the parties and the agreeing on measures to reduce the risk of disruption. The issues will not be resolved overnight. An instant measure, however, is to ensure that the altimeters are safe wherefore e.g. the FAA has now an approval scheme in operation for this.

    Further information may be seen e.g. here.


    Trond Sollie

    For more than 30 years, Sollie has worked with conformity assessment activities in various industrial contexts, both in Norway and internationally. He has been paramount in building relationships across organisations and borders. He has also been active in the management of the international IECEE/CB scheme for many...

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