Aviation, Aerospace, Wireless Industry 5G C-Band Talks “Productive”

Fox Business reports executives from Boeing and Airbus urged Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to delay the rollout of 5G from AT&T and Verizon on C-band set to begin this January. However, Wednesday, CTIA and associations representing the aviation and aerospace industries, called their on-going negotiations with the FAA and FCC productive and said the wireless industry remains on-track to launch 5G on C-band on January 5, 2022.

“5G interference could adversely affect the ability of aircraft to safely operate,” wrote Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun and Airbus Americas CEO Jeffrey Knittel on Monday. They stated 5G operations “could have an enormous impact on the aviation industry,” according to Reuters, which released the letter.  

Inside Towers reported the FAA raised concerns about potential interference of 5G operations on C-band with sensitive aircraft electronics like radio altimeters. This month, the FAA released airworthiness directives warning 5G interference could result in flight diversions.

The Boeing and Airbus letter cited analysis from the trade association Airlines for America. The association said if the FAA 5G directive had been in place in 2019, about 345,000 passenger flights and 5,400 cargo flights would have faced delays, diversions or cancellations. Buttigieg’s office did not immediately comment to Reuters.

Now, Airlines for America is more optimistic. The wireless industry and the FCC has said 5G use on C-band is safe and used now in some 40 other countries. In a combined statement on Wednesday, CTIA, the Aerospace Industries Association, and Airlines for America said: “We are pleased that after productive discussions we will be working together to share the available data from all parties to identify the specific areas of concern for aviation. The best technical experts from across both industries will be working collectively to identify a path forward, in coordination with the FAA and FCC.”

“Our belief is that by working collaboratively in good faith on a data-driven solution, we can achieve our shared goal of deploying 5G while preserving aviation safety,” they said.

On Wednesday, the FCC said the agency intends to share confidential information with the FAA related to the technical rules for C-band use filed in GN Docket # 18-122. Any entity that submitted information to that docket has 10 days to oppose disclosure.

By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief

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