The Ministry of Civil Aviation is planning to conduct discussions with various industry stakeholders and the Department of Telecommunications ahead of the 5G launch in India to deal with 5G interference with aircraft operations. The move came after the recent 5G launch in the USA, which resulted in many airlines, including India’s national carrier Air India, cancelling flights due to potential dangers, reports Economic Times.
India plans to conduct 5G auction in April-May 2022 and is anticipating the rollout of 5G services later this year, or by early 2023. The C-band spectrum in the 3.3-3.67 GHz range for 5G services, which claims to impact radar altimeters and auto-pilot systems of aircraft, will also be put up for sale in the upcoming auctions.
The Federation of Indian Pilots has already raised their concerns over 5G mobile signals possibly interfering with the operations of aircraft altimeters. Radio altimeters are crucial for landing in low-visibility conditions. Any fault in the system will deem air travel unsafe.
No hazards were reported across 40 countries that deployed 5G
The Indian telecom industry is heavily downplaying the situation claiming that the C-band spectrum has already been deployed for 5G services in key markets such as the EU, South Korea, UK, Australia, Japan and China without disturbing the air travel. CTIA, a trade association representing the US wireless players, also claimed that nearly 40 countries worldwide had launched 5G in C-band at similar frequencies. None of these countries has reported any harmful interference to their aircraft operations or other aviation equipment.
According to a quote by a top industry official to Economic Times, aircraft altimeter systems run on C-band airwaves from 4.2 GHz and above, and not 3.3-3.67 GHz spectrum proposed to be auctioned for 5G services in India.
The US Federal Aviation Administrator (FAA) had warned about the possible 5G signals in the C spectrum band – with band range from 3.3-4.2 GHz – interfering with aircraft altimeter systems which typically operate in the nearby 4.2-4.4 GHz range. As such, it conducted studies on various aircraft models. It cleared aircraft for flights, including Boeing 777 and Boeing 787, after it found out that the radio altimeter installed on the two Boeing flights are robust to withstand the interference from 5G C-band interference. Air India resumed services to the US after receiving confirmation from Boeing.