Airlines vs. 5G

I’ll also admit I don’t know a ton about this and most of what I understand has been discussed above. It does seem like a money thing. Seems like the airlines are doing a risk assessment and there isn’t a 0% chance of issues so they are crying about it and don’t want to spend any money ensuring or upgrading their equipment but it probably is fine (but probably isn’t good enough if there is a flight diversion, emergency, crash, etc.).

As pointed out, 5G doesn’t travel as far so there are more transponders all over the place. Seems like less of an issue or could be controlled around airports. 5G will be useful to enable technologies like self-driving cars and IoT (internet of things).

1 Like

From my experience as a flight crew Airman in the Air Force I chalk this up to flightsafety.


I’m all for flight safety, particularly if the core difference is people have to take 0.5 seconds vs 0.2 seconds to download cat videos and porn.




1 Like

I saw the article on CNN today and wondered the same.

My take is like yours. I know nothing about the technical issue, but it’s hard to fathom nobody in the review process bringing this up and nailing down an answer ahead of this fiasco.

Not sure what ya’ll are talking about, but my w2 says I made 5G last year. Haters gonna hate


5G’s! Have I mentioned donating to here? :wink:


The president of Emirates Airlines explains a little bit what the issue is with the planes and why it seemed to take everyone by surprise:

We were not aware that the power of the antennas in the United States have been doubled compared to what’s going on elsewhere. We were not aware that the antenna themselves have been put into a vertical position rather than a slight slanting position, which then taken together compromise not only the radio altimeter systems but the flight control systems on the fly by wire aircraft. So on that basis we took that decision late last night to suspend all our services until we had clarity…

So it appears that most didn’t understand how the US carriers were rolling out the tech and thus don’t actually know if it is a danger or not. Further, what it may interfere with is the radar altimeters that help the plane land.

Still don’t fully get it, but now it makes a little more sense on the ‘why’.


I read that too. Definitely explained the issue better. What a mess that could have been avoided with some communication. Corporate America!

The is from a fellow Trojan alumnus. He is a former Navy and current Delta pilot. Kinda scary:

"Yep, it’s a big bad deal that will adversely affect the instrument flight and approach capabilities of many different aircraft types. The 5G signals in the United States are at higher power levels than elsewhere in the world and also with closer proximity to airports. Canada has also approved 5G in the C-Band, but with restrictions against using C-Band in the vicinity of 26 airports and other measures to ensure aviation safety.

*These instrument approach operations requiring radio altimeter are now prohibited in the presence of 5G C-Band wireless broadband interference: *
*- Instrument Landing System (ILS) Instrument Approach Procedures SA CAT I, SA CAT II, CAT II & CAT III *
*- Required Navigation Performance (RNP) Procedures w/ Authorization Required (AR), RNP AR IAP *
*- Automatic Landing operations *
- Manual Flight Control Guidance System operations to landing/head-up display (HUD) to touchdown operation.
- Use of Enhanced Flight Vision System (EFVS) to touchdown.

Some info from the Airline Pilot’s Union:
"Radar altimeter interference from 5G signals can take the form of loss of radar altitude information or, worse, incorrect radar altitude information unknowingly being generated. There have been fatal accidents associated with incorrect radar altitude, most recently Turkish Airlines Flight 1951 in Amsterdam in 2009.

Altitude information derived from radar altimeters has been deeply integrated into aircraft systems and automation, with the latest aircraft using it to change aircraft handling qualities and prepare systems such as ground spoilers and thrust reversers for deployment prior to touchdown. This is in addition to radio altimeter use for autoland and in Category (CAT) II/III and Required Navigation Performance (RNP) AR approaches."

No aircraft specific impact is expected on my A-350. Most of the other Airbus aircraft are affected, including the 320’s & 330’s.

The 787’s have some changes to operational procedures associated with Landing Systems and Landing Distance Calculations.

The 737 MAX has pending operational procedure changes for thrust reversers and speedbrake deployment for takeoff and landing, as well as additional vigiliance around autopilot and autothrottle behavior.

I couldn’t find anything specific but my AA buddy who flies the 777 mentioned that 5G will essentially make that platform a VFR approach only aircraft.

I highly suggest you stop blowing off the ‘phone must be in airplane mode’ PA’s and help your flight crews police the ‘less informed’ folks around you. No one wants to be ‘exhibit A’, but someone is likely going to be.

Big. F*****. Mess.*"



I still don’t get why the red flag at the last minute. This has been coming for years. Isn’t just that there wasn’t true transparency or no one asked the right questions? Or just general gaslighting?


That’s what I don’t understand. Almost anyone can stick out they’re arm am touch an electrical engineer in this country.
Seems like billion dollar investiture would prompt due diligence from both principle parties and other invested stakeholder’s.

I fly the A 350 also and this is a big f’ing mess !! It will affect the A 350 . The radar altimeter is tied to a multitude of systems and a failure or malfunction is a big deal, especially when operating in low or zero visibility conditions!! Having your phone on now is a big deal !


OCGreg & 330Ute describe well the risks. “Additional vigilance in monitoring the auto-throttles…” That’s just pure insanity. If I was a B777 pilot, I’d be scared as hell to fly instrument approaches to minimums.

The interview with Emirates CEO reveals the origin - selling off frequencies without much research into the impact.

Between the 737 MAX’s “self certify” debacle and now this fundamental breakdown between the FAA and the FCC, there seems to be an overriding rush to get new products to market ASAFP, or there just aren’t enough regulators to find this kind of stuff.


In the 737 MAX situation, Brazilian regulators quickly found the NCAS and started asking questions, where here in the US Boeing didn’t even bother to tell the FAA, who completely trusted Boeing.

In this 5G situation, Canadian regulators found the issue long ago?

The FAA and FCC have become shadows of themselves. If all they’ve become is auction officials and data entry clerks for manufacturers who certify themselves… some major reform is needed.


So this seems to be a legit reason - Telecommunication companies have taken a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’; not offering potential issues (or solutions) and FCC is turning a blind eye in asking tough questions to make telecom do their due diligence (someone else’s problem). Meanwhile, FAA is too cozy with airlines/manufacturers that they aren’t going to regulate unless absolutely necessary in a reactionary model or call other agencies out.

I guess with the airlines speaking out heavily now, I wonder why they didn’t before? Maybe they were just behind closed doors and getting reassurances and now they are blowing the lid off to the media because they were gaslit? Was telecom/FCC shady and hid details? The interview from the Emirates CEO makes it seem like they had no clue until like a couple days ago. Canada knew? 5G has been around for a while at lower powers and they knew c-band was going to open up and they knew which frequencies were sold - did they just assume the US would do it like Europe or other places and no one realized they weren’t until the very last minute?

Just seems like there was potential to raise flags earlier from FCC, Telecom, FAA, Airlines/Manufacturers, and no one did. Which seems crazy since this happened in other countries/regions and there were known differences in the US rollout.


Maybe part of the answer to your reasonable question is in how the 737 MAX issue came to exist:

In competing against Airbus, Boeing wanted to market to US airlines that the MAX required no additional pilot training. None.

In a market where the ULCC (ultra low cost carriers - Spirit, Allegiant, etc) are pressuring the LCCs (Southwest, JetBlue), in turn adding more pressure on the mainline airlines… there’s not a lot of resource in the airlines beat up by a roller coaster financial reality looking at the nuances of which equipment might be impacted by 5G, etc.

Looks to me like a perfect storm - atrophied airline safety + atrophied FAA + FCC not really looking at the impact.

It wouldn’t surprise me if retired / furloughed aviation thinkers started to raise the alarms about this, and it seeped into the aviation ecosystem and then BAM… here we are.

EDIT - looks like aviation groups have been warning about this for a long time, going back to 2017. Looking more & more like Telcom vs Airlines (and big expenditures required)

Airlines Warn 5G on C-Band May Cause Major Disruptions | Digital Trends

EDIT2 - the Digital Trends article is really informative & fascinating.

  • Problems were identified early on, there was a working group formed to hash out the issues, but it disbanded in late 2020 because they couldn’t reach a consensus.

  • Telcom group contested many of the claims from the aviation group.

  • Aviation groups disputed the downplaying of the issues by Telcom, claiming the CTIA group "displays a lack of understanding concerning aviation and aerospace design, certification, manufacturing, and operations, including the fundamentals of aviation safety analysis.”

In one rebuttal, the aviation group points out that Telcom criticized the use of 40 year old radio altimeters… when in fact these instruments were made in 2020.

In another, Telcom states “the lack of reports of widespread altimeter interference” disproves the aviation report, an argument without evidence. However, in the aviation safety world, a lack of reports is not proof that there will not be interference.

This is a pretty serious clash of titans.


Forever etched in my mind is seeing the Turkish Airlines 737 pancaked into the ground short of the runway in Amsterdam as we broke out of the clouds due to a radar altimeter malfunction. Not saying it was a 5G issue but it shows the importance of the radar altimeter! This is not a situation that we as pilots should have to deal with. Yes, we are trained to go around if something is amiss,but if you introduce something that could possibly cause a dangerous situation just because someone wants to share a picture of what they were eating at a faster rate then we are crossing a point that is beyond comprehension. Profit over safety seems to be the motive of the Telecom industry.


AT&T and Verizon paid tens of billions of dollars to secure those radio frequencies. Yes, they will turn a profit, but they invested a lot of money to make that profit. I could flip the argument and say that the airlines - by not putting out the money to update their equipment to keep it within its own radio bandwidth - is valuing profit over safety. Yes, it would be expensive, but why should the expense of one bloated industry prevent another bloated industry from pursuing their business plan?

I have no dog in this fight, and of course I want air traffic to be safe. When the airlines knew that this was coming, however, instead of trying to fix the issues on their side they only petitioned the government to block the cell carriers from using the radio frequencies they purchased (as far as I can determine from what I have read). Again, where the radio frequencies do not overlap there has to be some logical compromise between the two sides and not this “give me my way or I take my ball and go home” philosophy that seems to be driving the current argument.