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US aviation regulator proposes deadline for 5G safeguards on planes

Airlines will need to install 5G resilient radio altimeters by early 2024.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is proposing a requirement for aircraft to retrofit their altimeters. Altimeters provide data on a plane’s height above the ground which is critical for landing in bad weather conditions.

Concerns about potential interference between 5G base stations and aircraft altimeters have been raised before. In early 2022, mobile network operators voluntarily agreed to delay their c-band 5G rollout near airports until 2023 to give airlines time to retrofit certain altimeters. Now this delay is likely to be extended.

The FAA is looking to propose an airworthiness directive, which would take effect in February 2024 and would prohibit flights from operating in the vicinity of 5G transmitters unless the FAA has approved them.

A representative from the mobile industry group CTIA told Reuters “the FAA’s schedule for altimeter updates is reasonable and practical. 5G in the C-band coexists safely with air traffic.”

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