American Airlines pilot warns 5G rollout on planes ‘is just crazy’
IFA Comment: Those responsible for radio spectrum management and the allocation of radio spectrum and those responsible for aviation safety need to be regular dialogue to ensure that there continues to be a good understanding of the potential for interference with safety related aircraft systems. The sharing of reports of occurrences of radio interference must be central to this dialogue.
Concerns are rising over the impact of the Federal Aviation Administration’s [FAA] deployment of 5G services on airplane safety.
“Why in the world would you roll this out? This is just crazy,” said American Airlines pilot and Allied Pilot Association spokesman Capt. Dennis Tajer during an interview on FOX Business’ “The Big Money Show.”
“I’m less worried about quick downloads of videos than I am about the safe download of passengers to the airport,” he added.
AT&T, Verizon and other wireless carriers will launch 5G services on airplanes on July 1.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg warned last week that while 80% of domestic airlines have made necessary changes to prevent the technology from interfering with equipment, flights could still be disrupted.
“We continue to see a significant number of aircraft still awaiting retrofit, including many operated by foreign air carriers. This means on bad-weather, low-visibility days in particular, there could be increased delays and cancellations—an effect which will be worse if affected airlines do not adequately adjust their schedules to anticipate these issues,” Buttigieg wrote to Airlines for America.
Tajer went on to explain that there are multiple systems affected by 5G.
“There are 17 systems that could be impacted by the invasion of the signal onto my airplane, and it’s not just in low weather days. These are systems [such as] collision avoidance systems with other aircraft, wind shear, thrust lever, speed brakes, a myriad of systems and the FAA has actually said there are still a thousand airplanes out there that are not ready for this.”
The FAA addressed safety issues on its website, stating that it “is working to ensure that radio signals from newly activated wireless telecommunications systems can coexist safely with flight operations in the United States, with input from the aviation sector and telecommunications industry.”
“The bottom line is, the 5G, it’s a business transaction,” Tajer argued. “It’s important to our commerce, but it doesn’t take [the] place of protecting the safety margin.”
“The only answer we can have on this is there’s an immense amount of money behind this, and someone’s got to say, hey, slow down a second,” he continued.
The American Airlines captain believes “the answer lies” with U.S lawmakers.
“There’s an FAA reauthorization bill. There are a variety of special interest groups that are trying to attach barnacles to the bottom of that ship, that money and those legislative actions are needed for the FAA to get back up on its feet so that it can support the infrastructure.”
Tajer went on to say passengers can “count on” pilots keeping them safe.
“There’s one thing that we will not debate on, and that is the safety margin. As these things happen, the pressure comes in on the flight deck,” he said. “We are there as the last line of defense for our passengers, and that’s why as professional pilots, we want our passengers to be treated humanely”