How 5G collided with an aviation device invented in the 1920s

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Altimeters are a key part of the 787’s landing system, activating reverse thrusters that slow the plane once it has landed. Mr Lemme said a Boeing patent suggested the feature was fully automated, meaning even a pilot landing a 787 manually would not be able to reverse the plane’s thrusters if the engine malfunctioned. the altimeter. The 787’s landing gear brakes, which are weight-actuated, would still work, as would its wing spoilers, which are only partially controlled by altimeter readings. But Mr Lemme said a lack of reverse thrusters would make it difficult for pilots to stop planes before they reach the end of the runway.

“You could absolutely have planes crossing the runways,” he said.

Boeing did not respond to a request for comment.

The FAA issued a notification on Friday saying it had detected “abnormalities” that “regardless of weather conditions or approach” could cause 5G interference affecting a number of the 787’s automated systems. 5G C-band interference may result in degraded deceleration performance, increased landing distance and runway excursion,” the agency said. The notification covers 137,787 in the United States and more than 1,010 worldwide.

AT&T and Verizon’s decision to temporarily limit their new 5G network to less than two miles from airports should address many of these security concerns, at least for now. But the onset of 5G took years to prepare, raising questions about why airlines, the FAA, wireless carriers and the FCC didn’t address them sooner.

Ms Furchtgott-Roth said previous warnings from aviation experts had been ignored. She said that in December 2020, the Ministry of Transport sent a letter to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration warning that allowing 5G to operate in its proposed frequency band would cause problems for flight safety systems. She said that letter was never forwarded to the FCC and cellphone companies.

Instead, the FCC, building on its own research that cleared 5G of safety concerns, launched a planned auction. In February, carriers offered more than $80 billion to use this part of the wireless spectrum for 5G.

“Wireless carriers have a right to expect a return on their investment,” Ms. Furchtgott-Roth said. “But you should be very happy that the FAA is taking a strong stance to keep people safe.”

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