AT&T and Verizon are set to release their 5G networks across the United States on January 19, but the launch could result in more than 9,000 commercial helicopters, including Medevac rescue helicopters.
Wireless service can make altitude radar altimeters unreliable and all commercial helicopters must have functional equipment under US law to fly.
Without radar altimeters, landing in remote areas or on hospital airfields will be almost impossible, said Ben Clayton, interim executive director of Life Flight Networks, according to Bloomberg.
The problem is that Medevac helicopters need to land and take off in remote areas, so their ability to measure altitude is vital to a successful mission.
Other commercial helicopters also rely on the technology to make trips or coercive measures that need to be deployed in difficult terrain.
In October, the Helicopter Association International (HAI) applied to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for an exemption from the Air Rescue Service as soon as 5G was introduced.
And on January 13, the HAI finally received a response, but only partial approval is granted.
Scroll down to the video
AT&T and Verizon are ready to release their 5G networks across the United States on January 19, but the launch could mean that many Medevac helicopters will be grounded as a result.
“Due to the unprecedented nature of the large-scale impacts on radio altimeters … the FAA will provide relief to holders of Part-119 certificates by the HAA [helicopter air ambulance] operations in areas where the FAA has determined that 5G C-band interference affects or may affect the radio altimeter, “the FAA states.
However, there are thousands of HAAs in the United States that care for at least 300,000 people a year who need to be taken to a medical facility.
Helicopters used in medical transport often land and take off from places other than airports or heliports to evacuate victims of natural disasters or traffic accidents.
And a reliable radar altimeter is essential to ensure the safety of helicopters, paramedics and patients.
Wireless service can make altitude radar altimeters unreliable and all commercial helicopters must have functional equipment under US law to fly. Pictured is Verizon rising in Utah
Regardless, the FAA says this type of shipment cannot be grounded, even if the device is not working properly due to 5G interference.
“It is in the public interest to allow the use of NVGs in HAA operations outside airports or in unprepared areas where radio altimeter interference could occur,” the FAA said in a statement.
“The public interest in continuing such operations is considerable, especially considering that approximately 40,000 to 50,000 such operations take place at night outside airports or in undeveloped areas.”
In 2019, the United States announced a total of 9,348 helicopters, which is four times more than the next largest fleet in Canada.
There was a lot back and forth between AT&T and Verizon and the US government before the official launch.
The launch was originally scheduled for January 4, but due to concerns about the service affecting airlines, the companies agreed on a two-week delay to give the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) enough time to resolve the issues.
Aviation officials fear that 5G signals near airports could interfere with some aircraft instruments, including a radio altimeter used to measure altitude.
The problem is 3.7 to 3.98 GHz, known as C-Band, for which both wireless operators have spent tens of billions of licenses using it to power their ultra-fast 5G networks.
Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing have warned that there is a possibility of interference to vital aircraft instruments operating in the adjacent 4.2 to 4.4 GHz band, including radio altimeters, which tell pilots their height in poor visibility.
In short, there is a concern that, in rare cases, false altitude data may confuse pilots as they approach landing in poor visibility conditions, with potentially catastrophic results.
However, the two-week delay should give the FAA enough time to ensure that aircraft operations are not disrupted – but the same cannot be said of helicopters.
EXPLANATION: DEVELOPMENT OF MOBILE BROADBAND UP TO 5G
The evolution of the G system began in 1980 with the invention of the mobile phone, which enabled the transmission of analog data via telephone calls.
Digital came into play in 1991 with 2G and SMS and MMS features were launched.
Since then, the capabilities and transmission capacity of the mobile network have increased massively.
More data can be transferred from one point to another over the mobile network faster than ever before.
5G is expected to be 100 times faster than currently used 4G.
While the jump from 3G to 4G was the most beneficial for mobile browsing and work, the move to 5G will be so fast that it will be almost real time.
This means that mobile operations will be as fast as an internet connection in the office.
Potential uses for 5g include:
- Simultaneous translation of several languages during a conference call
- Self-driving cars can stream movies, music and navigation information from the cloud
- The entire 8GB movie can be downloaded in six seconds.
5G is expected to be so fast and efficient that it is possible that it could start the end of cable connections.
The industry estimates that 50 billion devices will be connected to 5G by the end of 2020.
Development from 1G to 5G. Expected 5G speeds are more than 1 Gbps – 1,000 times higher than current 4G speeds and could be implemented in the notebooks of the future