Ensure 5G network doesn’t constitute danger to aviation safety – IATA

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The International Air Transport Association has urged the Federal Government of Nigeria and the governments of other countries to ensure that the new 5G network services do not constitute danger to aviation and incumbent aviation safety systems.

It added that maintaining safety of passengers, flight crews, and aircraft must continue to be one of governments’ highest priorities.

The PUNCH reports that the organisation spoke against the backdrop of flight disruptions caused by the deployment of 5G services by telecommunication companies in the United States and plans by Nigeria and other countries to soon deploy 5G services.

The call came as the global airline industry met in Doha, Qatar for its 78th IATA Annual General Meeting.

A statement by IATA, the Geneva-based body representing over 290 international airlines in over 120 countries, quoted its Director-General, Willie Walsh, as saying, “We must not repeat the recent experience in the United States, where the rollout of C-band spectrum 5G services created enormous disruption to aviation, owing to the potential risk of interference with radio altimeters that are critical to aircraft landing and safety systems. In fact, many countries have successfully managed to facilitate the requirements of 5G service providers, while including necessary mitigations to preserve aviation safety and uninterrupted services. These include, for example, Brazil, Canada, France and Thailand.”

“Before deciding on any spectrum allocations or conducting spectrum auctions, IATA call for governments to ensure close coordination and mutual understandings between national spectrum and aviation safety regulators so that each frequency allocation/assignment is comprehensively studied and is proven not to adversely impact aviation safety and efficiency.”

It said measures that had already been used by some governments which include ensuring thorough testing, sufficient spectrum separation between 5G C-band deployments and 4.2-4.4 GHz frequency band used by existing radio altimeters.

It listed others as clearly codifying and enforcing the maximum power limit for 5G C-band transmission and downward tilting of 5G antennae particularly in the vicinity of flightpaths; and establishment of sufficient 5G C-band prohibition and precautionary zones around airports.

Also, a former Managing Director, Aero Contractors, Captain Ado Sanusi, said telcos in Nigeria must work with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority to ensure safe rollout of 5G services.

Already, MTN has said it will deploy the services before the end of this year.

However, Sanusi said 5G services could pose risks to aircraft landing if its frequency is located close to onboard aviation safety equipment.

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