FAA sets rules for certain Boeing 787 landings near 5G service
Federal safety officials are directing operators of certain Boeing aircraft to adopt additional procedures when landing on wet or snowy runways near impending 5G service because, they say, interference from wireless networks could mean planes need more space to land.
The Federal Aviation Administration said Friday that interference could delay the activation of systems such as the Boeing 787’s thrust reversers, leaving only the brakes to slow the plane.
This “could prevent an aircraft from stopping on the runway,” the FAA said.
Similar orders could be issued in the coming days for other aircraft. The FAA has asked Boeing and Airbus for information on many models. Boeing said it was working with its suppliers, airlines, telecommunications companies and regulators “to ensure that every commercial aircraft model can operate safely and confidently when 5G is implemented in the United States.” .
The Boeing jet order comes a day after the FAA began issuing restrictions that airlines and other aircraft operators will face at many airports when AT&T and Verizon launch new, faster 5G wireless service on Wednesday.
The agency is still investigating whether these wireless networks will interfere with altimeters, which measure a plane’s height above the ground. Altimeter data is used to help pilots land when visibility is poor.
The devices operate on a portion of the radio spectrum close to the range used by the new 5G service, called C-Band.
The FAA’s actions this week are part of a larger fight between the aviation regulator and the telecommunications industry. Telecom companies and the Federal Communications Commission say 5G networks do not pose a threat to aviation. The FAA says more studies are needed.
The FAA is conducting tests to find out how many commercial aircraft have altimeters that might be vulnerable to spectrum interference. The agency said this week that it plans to estimate the percentage of those planes soon, but did not set a date.
“Aircraft with altimeters that are untested or that need to be upgraded or replaced will not be able to perform low visibility landings where 5G is deployed,” the agency said in a statement.
The Boeing 787 order is for 137 aircraft in the United States and 1,010 worldwide. The 787 is a twin-aisle aircraft that is popular on long hauls, including many international flights.
The FAA said that based on information from Boeing, 787s may not properly transition from flight mode to landing mode in the event of interference, which could delay the activation of systems that help slow the plane.
AT&T and Verizon have twice agreed to postpone activation of their new networks due to concerns raised by aviation groups and the FAA, most recently after the FAA and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg spoke out on their side. of the aeronautical industry. Buttigieg and FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson warned that flights could be canceled or diverted to avoid potential safety risks.
As part of an agreement with telecommunications companies, the FAA has designated 50 airports that will have buffer zones in which the companies will turn off 5G transmitters or make other changes to limit potential interference until early July.
The 50 include the three major airports in the New York area – LaGuardia, JFK and Newark Liberty – O’Hare and Midway in Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth International, Bush Intercontinental in Houston, Los Angeles International and San Francisco.
This telecoms concession was modeled on an approach used in France, although the FAA said last week that France required greater reductions in the range of cell towers around airports.
David Koenig can be contacted at www.twitter.com/airlinewriter