Your flight plan now includes checking for 5G interference
The next time you file a flight plan, you might want to check the new Airworthiness Directives (ADs) issued by the FAA to protect against 5G interference. The debate over the safety of a 5G network has been raging ever since the concept was introduced, but now it’s decision time.
The FAA stated that they believe that the expanding 5G network can safely co-exist with aviation. Still, just in case, they are issuing a framework to gather more safety-related information.
The big news is the issuance of two Airworthiness Directives, designed to “incorporate limitations to prohibit certain operations requiring radio (radar) altimeter data when in the presence of 5G C-Band interference.” But how do you know when you are, or will be in the presence of 5G interference?
If you’re new to the discussion, the concern is that operations in the 5G C-band could interfere with our radar altimeters (which are critical when on approaches in the slag), within feet of the ground. It’s nice that the FAA “believes” that we can safely operate in those conditions, but I’d like to know for sure.
One of the new ADs applies to transport and commuter category airplanes, and the other is for helicopters. I have to wonder about the corporate and charter operators out there. Are we on our own with this? The ADs say that future NOTAMS will identify the affected locations. The FAA has also published a Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin (SAIB) that explains the possible concerns with the 5G network as it relates to aviation. So, as always, check the NOTAMS before you fly.
Whether you fly for an airline or your own enjoyment, awareness is key to your safety. Be aware that the NOTAMS will contain the information needed to avoid the 5G areas. If you can’t avoid the area, at least make your decisions based on the knowledge that your radar altimeter may be inaccurate due to this interference. Before you file your flight plan, check the weather and the NOTAMS. This is more than just an approach lighting outage. Stay aware!