With a question and answer.. Al Jazeera explains the aviation crisis in the United States caused by the fifth generation platforms

Washington- More than 40 countries around the world are using 5G technology to support wireless networks safely and without disrupting aviation services. On the contrary, the United States witnessed a major crisis during the past few days, which resulted in the cancellation of thousands of domestic flights, and several international airlines suspended their flights to many American airports, due to concerns about the safety of aircraft landing.

Al Jazeera Net explains, through a “question and answer”, everything related to fifth generation technology and its relationship to aviation, the danger of operating near airports and the impact of this on air traffic, and how the recent crisis was dealt with.

  • Simply, what is “fifth generation” technology, and what are its general benefits?

The fifth generation is an advanced technology that has been used to meet the continuous increase and pressure of new applications that require huge capabilities that were not provided by previous technologies such as “4G” and “3G” (3G). One second, which allows downloading a long movie, for example, in high definition, within a few seconds.

The fifth generation technology relies on the frequency transmission of 3.5 gigahertz, which is a limit that exceeds the capabilities of the fourth generation. The fifth generation broadcasts radio waves (air) to connect subscribers – whether individuals or companies and various entities – with huge wireless capabilities, to facilitate and speed up their various activities. From here, major telecommunications companies around the world resort to it, in light of the great competition that does not know how to stop.

Telecommunication networks depend on the fifth generation technology to drive electric cars, modern manufacturing, smart city management, remote health services, and other fields that depend on Internet-connected devices.

Connecting to the fifth generation networks requires the establishment of booster towers, to connect the targeted geographic areas with the networks of the carriers providing the fifth generation technology.

  • What is the nature of the crisis caused by the fifth generation technology with American airlines?

In 2018, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) sold licenses to use C-Band spectrum from 5G networks to carriers, and AT&T and Verizon secured a tender It is valued at $81 billion from the US government, which allows it to provide a robust and profitable fifth generation service.

But airlines soon began to object, claiming that the use of this technology near airports could interfere with aircraft radar measurement devices, which are devices that tell pilots how high their plane is from the ground, and contribute significantly to the safe landing of aircraft in cases of blurred vision due to weather conditions. .

However, the source of the crisis stems from the nature of the fifth generation technology available in the United States, which telecommunications companies want to use in areas that include airports, which is different from its counterpart in the rest of the world.

The fifth generation frequencies may interfere in aircraft and air navigation systems (Reuters)
  • What is the problem with operating the fifth generation technology near American airports?

C-Band technology uses a range of frequencies between 3.7 to 3.98 GHz, and this range is higher than that used in areas near airports in most countries of the world. In France and Canada, this range does not exceed 3.6 GHz.

Many scientists and specialists believe that any rate more than 3.6 GHz may interfere with aircraft and air navigation systems. The situation becomes more complicated for pilots in the event of storms or cloudy skies.

It was agreed two years ago that AT&T and Verizon would start offering C-Band technology on the 19th of this month. The airlines did not prepare, and there was no exchange of views between telecommunications companies and airlines on how to deal and prepare to start using C-Band technology.

  • What are the repercussions of the crisis on American and global aviation?

Hundreds of flights were canceled to avoid any accidents that could have occurred, and thousands of other flights were delayed, and many foreign companies suspended their flights for several days to the United States until the end of the crisis last Thursday.

  • How was this crisis overcome?

The Federal Aviation Administration said it has granted new approvals that will allow an estimated 78 percent of the US airline fleet to land, even under low visibility conditions, at airports where the new, faster wireless service has been turned on.

The telecommunications companies agreed to postpone the activation of the support towers near the airports until the range rates are reduced to match those in other countries, and until the aircraft’s preparations are completed to deal with the consequences of this technology in the future.

  • What is the position of American airlines?

The heads of 10 major US airlines have warned that deploying 5G towers near airport runways will harm the aviation industry, public travel, supply chains, vaccine distribution, and all economic areas.

After the crisis passed, airline executives breathed a sigh of relief on Thursday, telling their investors they believed the threat to their operations from the 5G rollout was now behind them.

Passengers look at the information board in the international terminal at Bali's Ngurah Rai airport in Denpasar hoping for information of flight delays due to volcanic ash near Indonesia's resort island on July 10, 2015. Ash drifting from an Indonesian volcano closed five airports on July 10, including the one on the holiday island of Bali, causing about 250 flights to be cancelled and stranding thousands of holidaymakers. The international airport on nearby popular Lombok island was also among those closed late on July 9 as Mount Raung in East Java province spewed clouds of ash. AFP PHOTO / SONNY TUMBELAKAThe heads of 10 major US airlines have warned that the deployment of fifth generation towers near airports will harm the aviation industry (Getty Images)
  • What is the position of US telecom companies?

Carriers agreed to delay the use of 5G technology for two weeks at the request of the Federal Aviation Administration, as well as to turn off transmitters and make modifications near airports to reduce potential interference to 5G networks.

At the same time, US telecommunications companies say that the dilemma of the consequences of operating 5G near airports was highlighted in a government report issued in 2020, and that alarm bells were sounded about potential radio interference that could jeopardize air safety, and the airlines did nothing Steps to face an upcoming crisis.

Telecom companies agreed to delay the deployment of the fifth generation for several weeks until the repercussions of the deployment on the aviation sector are prepared, and pledged not to install support towers at least two miles from airports.

Communications companies have expressed frustration at the FAA’s inability to do what authorities in 40 countries around the world have done.

  • How does the rest of the world deal with this technical dilemma?

Much of the world uses C-band technology, including Canada and France, but they restrict problematic signals in areas near airports. The rest of the countries only allow this technology as long as its rates are below 3.6 gigahertz. Canada, for example, imposes restrictions on use near 26 airports, and is taking other measures to ensure flight safety. The aircraft are also equipped with some advanced technologies that can deal with the negative effects of the fifth generation.

  • What about the position of the White House on this crisis?

Communications companies agreed to back down in the face of pressure from airlines after strong intervention from the White House to support their position, and the White House helped reach an agreement to delay the start of technology near airports.

President Joe Biden said – in a statement issued last Tuesday – that “this agreement will avoid potentially devastating disruptions to passenger travel, freight operations, and economic recovery. This agreement protects aviation safety, allows uninterrupted flight operations, and will bring more high-speed Internet options to millions of Americans.”

He added that his team “is working with carriers, airlines and aviation equipment manufacturers, to bridge the remaining gap and reach a lasting and workable solution.”

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