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NCAA allays flight safety concerns on 5G rollout in Nigeria

By Wole Oyebade
01 February 2022   |   3:25 am
Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), yesterday, said that the planned rollout of the fifth generation (5G) mobile network poses no threat to safe flight operations.

Musa Nuhu

Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), yesterday, said that the planned rollout of the fifth generation (5G) mobile network poses no threat to safe flight operations.

The Director-General of the apex regulatory body, Capt. Musa Nuhu, said despite the concerns raised in some parts of the United States, Nigeria should have no such worries given the absence of auto-landing in local aviation.

Transportation regulators have raised concerns that the version of 5G scheduled to be switched on in the U.S. and Nigeria, among others, could interfere with some airplane instruments, and many aviation industry groups shared those fears — despite reassurances from federal telecom regulators and wireless carriers.

The United States’ Federal Aviation Administration has been worried that 5G cellular antennas near some airports — not air travellers’ mobile devices — could throw off readings from some aircraft equipment designed to tell pilots how far they are from the ground. Those systems, known as radar altimeters, are used throughout a flight and are considered critical equipment. Nuhu told reporters that the local CAA was still monitoring the situation, and if there were issues that might affect the industry, immediate action would be taken.

“There is a critical component called radio altimeter; the spectrum by which this equipment operates is close to that of the 5G. So, they are afraid of interference from the radio altimeter and giving aircraft erroneous indication and it’s during aircraft approach landing when they are about 2,500ft or so above the ground.

“Usually, it is for flights that are controlled to land. For us in Nigeria, we don’t have auto landing authorisation; our flights don’t do auto landing. So, for now, it is of no concern to us, but we are still monitoring the situation, see the development if there are issues that might affect us, then we will take the necessary action,” Nuhu said.

On the recent theft of Arik Air’s Boeing 737 gadgets at Lagos Airport, the DG said the matter had been reported to the NCAA and investigation was ongoing.

He, however, faulted the theft and vandalisation claim. “I won’t say it was a vandalisation.

What happened is that somebody, who obviously knew where the aircraft was, somebody who obviously knew what he was doing, went to the E and E2 Compartments, walked in there and removed a component professionally without damaging anything. So, figure out that for yourself.

“As far as I am concerned, it is an ongoing investigation. So, we will wait for the outcome of the investigation. It is very clear that I cannot go to the very technical part of the aircraft and remove something there. I must know something about it and I am not new to the system. Whoever did that job knew what he was doing. The security agencies are investigating the issue,” Nuhu said.

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