21 Jan

5G Woke Up and Chose Violence

5G Woke Up and Chose Violence; Why Does the Latest Cell Technology Hate Safe Landings?

Oh landing. A fairly important, nay critical component to both gymnastics and flying a plane.

We’re assuming, we’re not pilots; but like, in terms of vital aspects of flight it’s probably at least top 10, right above acceptable pretzel rations.

This begs the question, why all the hullabaloo about landing in the wake of the AT&T/Verizon launch of 5G? What could one possibly have to do with the other?

Turns Out, Alot

Hence why everyone is having an aerial conniption, specifically the pilots, their union, the FCC, Boeing, the FAA, and the hopes and dreams of everyone longing to live in a world where safe landings and faster loading Netflix binges aren’t mutually exclusive. The only one keeping cool seems to be Airbus, for now, but they’re French so did we expect anything else besides unaffected nonchalance?

*Airbus takes casual drag from Parisian cigarette*

Anyway. For the sake of reference, let’s take a look at a typical landing (this is taking into account Boeing procedures when the conditions are ideal, visibility is excellent, and the pilots have plans for that hotel lobby Chili’s, so they are looking to LAND). These days, touchdown is actually all automated for the most part, relying on a program called “Autoland” (v. original).

Here’s the crux of the problem though; it really only works when conditions are good, especially visibility. When there’s weather (or sometimes even heavy wind) the safest option is a good, old fashioned manual landing. Enter, the star of this whole drama:

  • The Altimeter: Throughout the landing process, this device shoots out radio waves that bounce back and inform the system (and pilots) how far they are from the ground. This helps them time the deployment of the landing gear, know when to pull up on the yoke thing, and tells them when to literally get the plane on the ground in one piece despite any bad weather. Huzzah! To bottomless chips and salsa, posthaste!

But wait, the villain is also waiting to enter:

  • 5G technology: This network capability apparently has a major beef going with the altimeter and thinks it’s fun to interfere while it’s (the altimeter) just trying to get a read on approach.

5G Killed the Radio Star

Ok, but what does that all mean? In short, that one of the most critical tools pilots rely on to manually land a plan safely in hazardous conditions could potentially be in jeopardy. (Potentially because this is all highly theoretical. The launch of 5G has been pushed back as the government, the FCC and the FAA are all trying to hash this out as we type).

But if you’re looking for a more in-depth analysis, we’ve got you covered…

Your phone, you know it, you love/hate it, you spend too much time on it. But have you ever wondered how it actually works? There’s not just random internet ether out there; at its most basic, cell service is basically radio waves that ping off of cell towers via radio frequencies and loop back to your phone. Yes, these are the same frequencies used by music stations…and airlines.

Frequencies are measured in gigahertz, which have ranges all over the electromagnetic spectrum that impact speed and reachability. But, in the US, the gigahertz allotted for 5G frequencies are really close to those employed by airlines, specifically altimeters. Not only that, but in rural areas the towers are permitted to emit frequencies in higher levels than those that are considered normal. This only strengthens concern over the impact said frequencies could have on the efficacy of tools used in a manual touchdown.

Again, while this all seems mainly theoretical, the powers that be are worried. So much so that the FAA has already issued a statement telling pilots not to use their altimeters at over 80 airports ahead of the now postponed rollout. Some international carriers have already cancelled flights to major US cities including Japan’s All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, Air India, British Airways, and Emirates. Others have begun the painstaking process of swapping out Boeing aircrafts (remember, Airbus remains too cool to care), which can have a devastating ripple effect based on the original trip footprint and maintenance schedule intended for each individual plane.

Waiting for the Dust (and Cell Service) to Settle

As far as we have seen, nothing has been decided yet, and AT&T/Verizon are still waiting to see their 5G dreams come true stateside (they’ve already successfully launched in Europe because, Europe). They’re pretty testy about the wait, but we suppose we would be too if we had to delay/rework a major launch that was probably having a hefty impact on profitability.

Our founder and CEO Erwin Ponce finds the whole situation confusing, and frankly frightening, stating, “I can’t believe this hasn’t been worked out. If these 2 titans don’t figure out a compromise and cell service ends up winning the rights to those frequencies, this would overwhelm and already overwhelmed industry.”

Truer words have never been spoken from an owner whose company exists because of all the other issues airlines are currently contending with. And let’s not forget that overwhelm would be the best-case scenario here.

When the worst possible alternative is a national eruption of fiery plane crashes, well, we think the cellular overlords can afford to wait a bit.

Note: Since the original writing of this post, the airlines, the FAA, the telecom titans, and the DOT are confident an agreement will be reached soon, and without impacting flight schedules. The official rollout of 5G remains postponed.

Thanks so much for the statement, we feel so much better now that we know absolutely nothing new.

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Posted by | Posted at January 21, 2022 7:55 pm | Tags: ,
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About us

Airlines depend on ELP Aviation because our software improves operational efficiencies, eases crew interactions, and increases profitability. We offer products that provide scalable and agile solutions based on the individual Carrier’s needs. We’re already thinking about how to solve the next problem.

Learn more
Locations

 

Headquarters:  103 W Spring Ave, Conway Springs, KS, USA

Branch Office: Narayana Enclave, Plot No 610, Road Number 33, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad-500033, Telangana, India.

Contact Us
+ 1 (316) 239-6080

info@elpaviation.com

 

Account
If you are an ELP CrewPortal App user please contact your Airline Department for questions.

@ ELP Aviation, Inc. 2020