5G and Airplanes: Phone Speeds Going Up, Airplanes Going Down

5G and Airplanes: Phone Speeds Going Up, Airplanes Going Down

Within the past few years, 5G mobile networks have skyrocketed in popularity and in coverage. In the past few years, over half a million 5G cell towers have been built across the United States. Although 5G can make phone speeds significantly faster, it can also bring airplanes down.

5G works by using higher frequency radio signals that reduce the amount of clutter. This brings higher internet speeds to anyone using it, and also allows the signal to support more devices at once. While this may all sound great, there is a large issue in this technology. 

Similar frequencies used by 5G are also used by many modern airplanes to operate their radio altimeters. Radio altimeters send and receive radio signals that determine the altitude of an aircraft. These radio altimeters are critical when landing commercial airplanes and when flying in low visibility conditions. 5G signals may interfere with these radio altimeters, preventing pilots from reading altitudes accurately. 

If an issue like this were to occur on a cloudy day, the results could be catastrophic. The pilots would have no way of telling their altitude, and could very easily crash. Chief executives of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines and other major airlines have recently stated, “Unless our major hubs are cleared to fly, the vast majority of the traveling and shipping public will essentially be grounded”

Although this is all terrible news, there is still hope. The Federal Aviation Administration has said that work is currently underway to replace 5G antennas that are affecting many flights in the U.S. For the safety of the American public, let’s hope that these replacements come sooner rather than later.