The FAA is threatening more 5G-related flight disruptions if federal communications officials don’t throttle the signals of smaller cellphone carriers around airports. In a letter obtained by Reuters sent last Friday, FAA Acting Administrator Billy Nolen told the National Telecommunications and Information Administration that 5G remains an interference threat for some radar altimeters and unless the 19 other telecoms poised to launch their services follow the same limits as the majors, safety will be threatened. “The FAA would be forced to take immediate steps to ensure the safety of the traveling public, raising the likelihood of flight disruptions across the United States,” Nolen wrote.
Verizon and AT&T agreed in June to a variety of restrictions and service delays to allow owners of aircraft with susceptible altimeters the chance to replace or modify them. Until then, Nolen said he can’t take the chance that unfettered access to 5G by the mall companies will interfere with the altimeters. The altimeter retrofitting won’t be finished until sometime in 2023. The FAA doesn’t have the authority to force compliance on the small carriers and it’s requesting the FCC make the order. None of the telecommunications officials responded to Reuters.