You should not mitigate a risk by creating an even bigger one. An open letter to FAA Director S Dickson

One of the main criteria for approving an airplane or an operator for ETOPS (Extended Operations – Formerly Extended-range Twin-engine Operations Performance Standards) is the maintenance of manageable crew WORLOAD. It appears in the requirements for cockpit design systems design and SOP structure.

Now that the 5G fiasco dust is settling down we are left three options provided you are flying an airplane that’s been approved for AMOC (i.e. an airplane that it’s radio altimeter has been analyzed to perform satisfactorily in a 5G effected airport with a 2 mile perimeter.

  • The intended for landing airport is in a 5G environment but has an established perimeter of 2 miles and therefore you can operate normally under the AMOC. (Sometimes this applies to only some of the runways, as is the case in Kansas City.) This info can be found in the “Airports/runways list cleared for Minimized 5G C-Band interference).
  • The intended for landing airport is in a 5G environment and does not have an established perimeter – you must conform with your AD and SAFO.
  • The intended for landing airport is in a 5G free environment – that is the case of KABQ. And you are clear to operate as if we before the 5G c-band deployment in the US.
  • There is also the risk of pilots thinking the 5G issue has been solved. I’ve heard quit a few pilots speak that way. So, If the FAA cried wolf – no problem. But if this is a real issue, well…. we’ve put everyone to sleep.

The solution the FAA came up with is a list of what might be affected on one hand and of approved to operate airports for each type of airplane/radio altimeter. This solution addresses only the technical / regulatory aspects of 5G-RALT interference.

Let’s talk about forced diversion to an en-route airport. This will happen usually due to a sick passenger or a rather serious malfunction.

A crew under these conditions is now faced not only with the higher-than-normal pressure and workload of managing the malfunction and the diversion within the cockpit, with the company ATC passengers etc. But now there is the added pressure of the 5G interference/

Am I flying to a 5G free airport? Are we going to experience all the list of potential disturbances to airplane systems? Should I proceed to land regardless of the 5G status? Am I liable in case I get it wrong and not use the “nearest suitable airport” Am I liable if I fly an extra 30 minutes to get to a 5G free airport I know of but it turns out to be that there was a closer one?

This added level of ambiguity is a serious threat not only to Workload management WLM but also to decision making.

Just imagine Swiss 111 but with a 5G dilemma.

The list of approved airports and runways is in the document mentioned above. And is available to all crews.

Airports not mentioned in the document can be either with no perimeter therefore very limiting or they are 5G free and thus limitation-free.

As of now January 31st all airports limited by 5G publish on ATIS something like “5G NOTAMS IN EFFECT FOR KJFK. FOR FURTHER INFO CONTACT FSS”

The documents are changing daily. The 5G free airports are identified only by lack of NOTAM that is a less than desired human factor method of presenting information. Its absence.

The FAA should mitigate this new residual threat created by the rushed 5G solution.

A diversion is stressful as is. We do not want the extra workload.

Until such time – I Plan ahead to minimize the chances of diverting to a runway only to find out on short final that there are 5G EMI issues. I also do you want to fly more than you should because you lack info. If you have NOTAMS on board – look at them they should say if 5G limitations are implemented. If not, you can retrieve ATIS for airports along your route – if such a message does not sound or appear on ATIS – you are clear.

If it does – refer to the AIRPORT/RUNWAY 5G list.

It is a bit like flying a single engine and always planning what do I do in case…..

But that’s the state of the 5G right now in America.

The FAA should mange this better.

Stay safe

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