Does 5G affect aeroplane instruments or not? There is much debate. 

It is a contentious and ongoing debate whether 5G can interfere with important aeroplane instrumentation. 

The carriers, Boeing, and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) say there is potential for interference with vital aircraft instruments that operate in the 4.2 to 44 GHz range, such as radio altimeters that tell pilots their altitude as they fly in low visibility.

The fear is that pilots might be confused by inaccurate altitude readings, especially when they are approaching runways in low visibility. This could have potentially catastrophic consequences.

However, the mobile companies deny this, with a spokesman for Verizon saying: ‘Air safety is of paramount importance, but there is no evidence that 5G operations using C-band spectrum pose any risk to aviation safety, as the real-world experience in dozens of countries already using this spectrum for 5G confirms.’ 

UK regulators are also unconcerned, with the CAA, Britain’s equivalent of the FAA, saying there had been ‘no reported incidents’ of aircraft systems being affected in UK airspace. Ofcom stated that they have not yet seen any evidence to cause concern after conducting their own technical analysis. 

British tourists flying to the USA tomorrow should check that their tickets are not cancelled after American airlines warned they could be grounded by 5G. 

The chief executives of major US carriers have warned of an impending ‘catastrophic’ aviation crisis on Wednesday when AT&T and Verizon finally deploy their new 5G services.

Two companies spent billions to acquire the frequency spectrum of 3.7-3.8 GHz for their new C-Band 5G high-speed service.

However, officials from Boeing and the US Federal Aviation Administration warned there was potential interference with important aircraft instruments in the 4.2 to44 GHz band. For example radio altimeters which inform pilots of their altitude when they fly low-visibility. 

The fear is that pilots might be confused by inaccurate altitude readings, especially when they are approaching runways in low visibility. This could have potentially catastrophic consequences. 

US airlines warn that they may ground aircrafts due safety concerns. However, other authorities such as the UK Civil Aviation Authority, Ofcom, and mobile networks, have stated there is no evidence 5G interferes with aircraft systems. 

Paul Charles from the PC Agency is a travel expert and said Brits need to be aware of any disruptions while the matter is being resolved. 

MailOnline received this statement from him: “The main advice is to ensure that you check whether there are any flight disruptions if your trip to the US takes place tomorrow.” 

“There are no problems with 5G infringing on aircraft safety systems in countries other than the UK, and I feel it is a matter of American airlines needing additional education before 5G can roll out.”

“But, from the passenger’s point of view it is best to plan your trip as normal and make sure you cancel any changes.

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, both UK carriers, haven’t yet indicated if they anticipate their services being affected. 

The CEOs of some of America's largest airlines wrote to federal officials on Monday warning about the potential negative effects of 5G

On Monday, the CEOs of America’s top airlines wrote to Federal officials warning of potential adverse effects of 5G.

The US airline CEOs claimed in their letter that interference to aeroplanes’ altimeters could result in ‘more than 1,100 flights and 100,000 passengers would be subjected to cancellations, diversions or delays.’

Others planes may be grounded for safety reasons. 

Action is urgent, they added in the letter, writing: ‘To be blunt, the nation´s commerce will grind to a halt.’ 

It was signed by American Airlines’ chief executive, JetBlue Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and FedEx Express officials. 

Verizon and AT&T have since agreed to push back the launch of their new service from January 4, but it is now set to debut on Wednesday.

Mobile broadband evolution up to 5G

With the advent of the cell phone in 1980, analogue data could be sent via telephone calls.   

In 1991, 2G was introduced and MMS and SMS capabilities were added. 

The mobile network’s capabilities have greatly improved since then. 

Mobile networks allow for faster data transfers.

The 5G network will be 100 times faster that the 4G. 

Whilst the jump from 3G to 4G was most beneficial for mobile browsing and working, the step to 5G will be so fast they become almost real-time. 

This means that mobile internet access will not be slow as for office-based connections.

These are some potential uses for 5g: 

  • Translation simultaneous of multiple languages during a conference call 
  • Auto-driving cars are able to stream music, movies and navigation data from the cloud.
  • In just six seconds, you can download a full 8GB movie. 

5G will be so efficient and quick that it may end wired connections.  

According to industry estimates, 50 billion devices with 5G connectivity will exist by 2020.

When that happens, the airline CEOs warned federal officials on Monday, a significant number of widebody aircrafts will become unusable and  ‘could potentially strand tens of thousands of Americans overseas.’

The CEOs stated that if our main hubs do not allow for flying, then the majority of shipping and traveling publics will be grounded.

They explained that the harm caused by deployments on January 19th is much worse than they anticipated because of two important reasons.

One, the FAA is not recognized by them, The company announced the approval of two radar altimeters that were in Boeing and Airbus planes for low-visibility landings at all airports where 5G-C-band is being deployed. did not include many large airports.

Furthermore, the authors argued that modern safety systems would be unusable if radio altimeters were not used to provide vital information for other navigation systems and safety in modern aircrafts.

“Aeroplane makers have told us that large swathes of the fleet may require to be grounded indefinitely.” 

‘The ripple effects across both passenger and cargo operations, our workforce and the broader economy are simply incalculable,’ the CEOs wrote as they asked officials ‘that 5G be implemented everywhere in the country except within the approximate 2 miles of airport runways’ at some key airports.

“Immediate intervention will be required to prevent significant operational disruptions to passengers and shippers as well as to the supply chain and delivery medical supplies.

According to the carriers, they also urged action to ensure that ‘5G’ is not deployed when towers are too near to runways. Until then, the FAA must determine how to safely do this without severe disruption. obtained the letter and sent it to Brian Deese from White House National Economic Council, Pete Buttigieg as Transportation Secretary, Steve Dickson, FAA Administrator, and Jessica Rosenworcel, Chairwoman of Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Airlines for America, which was the organizer of the letter, refused to comment. The agencies of the government did not comment immediately. 

Modern planes, like the one seen here, contain altimeters, which measures altitude and allows pilots to fly when visibility is limited

Altimeters are a modern feature on planes like this one. They measure altitude, and allow pilots to fly in poor visibility conditions. 

US airlines claim 5G can render radar altimeters unreliable. Pictured is a Verizon 5G tower going up in Utah

US airlines assert that 5G could make radar altimeters unstable. The Verizon 5G tower in Utah is shown here 

AT&T and Verizon, which won nearly all of the C-Band spectrum in an $80 billion auction last year, on January 3 agreed to buffer zones around 50 airports to reduce interference risks and take other steps to cut potential interference for six months. 

A temporary halt to the aviation safety standoff was also made by them, with their agreement to defer deployment for two more weeks from Wednesday.

Officials told Reuters that the chief executives of major airlines, as well as Boeing Chief Executive Officer Dave Calhoun, called lengthy calls with Buttigieg & Dickson Sunday to discuss the looming crisis.

However, the problem doesn’t only affect aircrafts; it could also impact the nation’s helicopters and even lifesaving medevac cutters.

The US requires that all commercial helicopters have an operating altimeter before they can fly. Officials warn that landing on remote landing strips or hospital landing platforms without one is almost impossible.

Helicopter Association International filed a petition with the FAA last October asking that medevacs be exempted from the law as 5G roll outs. The FAA approved it for those areas in which 5G CBand interference might affect radio altimeter. 


Chief executives of major US passenger and cargo carriers warned of an impending ‘catastrophic’ aviation crisis Wednesday when AT&T and Verizon deploy a new 5G service.

These two companies invested tens billions in licensing the frequency band 3.7-3.98 GHz to create the high-speed C Band 5G service. 

C-band refers to a part of electromagnetic spectrum within the microwave frequency range (4.0-8.0 gigahertz, GHz), though the US Federal Communications Commission also designated 3.7-4.2 GHz the C band. 

Wireless spectrum from 5G networks can interfere with radio altimeters which are used to measure altitudes of aircrafts. This is especially critical for operations that require low visibility. 

Roslyn Leyton, Strand Consult vice president, stated to Tech Monitor that “the issue is that C-band frequencies used for 5G are a bit closer to those used by altimeters.” 

The radio altimeter, an essential aviation safety technology, is used to determine the height of an airplane and support safe landings.

It works in the frequency band 4.2-4.4GHz; currently, cell phones are not allowed to use that band. 

But, interference risk could rise if telecom authorities redeploy the band 3.7 to4.2 GHz for 5G. 

Radar interference by 5G signals could lead to loss or worse: incorrect radar altitude data being unknowingly generated. 

Incorrect radar altitude can cause fatal accidents, such as the Turkish Airlines Flight 1951 to Amsterdam in 2009. 

FAA warns that interference can affect altimeters, sensitive instruments in airplanes and low-visibility operations. 

This threat may compromise critical safety systems, resulting in the suspension of passenger and cargo flights. 

For passengers, flights may be cancelled or have to be diverted to other airports if 5G towers are deployed too close to airport runways.  

Layton says that most regulators of aviation are satisfied with the low risk posed by 5G. 

She stated that “this whole thing is not helpful for the world’s airport regulators.” The FAA has declared “there is a problem”, despite having approved the technology for years. It is very inconvenient, and quite embarrassing.

AT&T and Verizon have agreed to buffer zones around 50 airports to reduce interference risks. 

After previously delaying deployment by 30 days, they agreed to postpone the deployment until Wednesday (19 January 19). 

Ofcom in the UK stated that the country has had 5G deployments for many years, and also other services within the band near radio altimeters. There have never been any cases of interference. 

Similar to the United States, many other countries have also begun using 5G frequencies and other wireless services without any reported interference with aviation equipment. 

There are concerns about the potential effects of deployment in the US. 

An Ofcom spokesperson said: ‘We’re aware that the aviation sector is looking at this; we’ve done our own technical analysis and are yet to see any evidence that would give us cause for concern.’