Civil flights stuck in the 5G web, a difficult choice

      The recent USA regulatory circular on the affect of 5G network on flight operations has thrown the aircraft makers in a tizzy. The 5G network which has been rolled out in various parts of the world has subscribers drooling with the promise of blazing internet speeds which could download a movie in 5 seconds.  The 5G network affects the operations of the radio altimeter of the aircraft which could interfere with various systems like the automatic landing, Ground Proximity Warning Systems, Displays etc. The two big aircraft makers have approached the FAA to help mitigate the risk by delaying the launch of the 5G network in the USA. The question which arises is, what about the rest of the world where 5G has already been deployed and aircraft flying in and out daily? Well yes, the airline industry would loose billions as the flight operations would get impacted especially in poor visibility conditions. However, there doesn't seem to be any concern towards possible lives being los

Bubbles, the risk based solution by United Nations Aviation Body


The impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic on global air transport is without precedent. Airports have seen a 28.4 per cent decline in global passenger traffic volumes for the first quarter of 2020, equivalent to a reduction of 612 million passengers in absolute terms. For airlines, the revenue passenger kilometres flown (RPKs) worldwide were down by 94% on the previous year. International RPKs were down 98%, as the passenger side of the industry was virtually grounded. With second waves of the virus impacting various countries and leading to renewed travel restrictions, international air travel remains minimal at -88% down on last year in August. These volumes (domestic and international traffic) are expected to decrease by 50.4 per cent for 2020 as a whole as compared to 2019 figures. ICAO estimates that, by the end of 2020, the COVID-19 impact on scheduled international passenger traffic could reach reductions of up to 71 per cent of seat capacity and up to 1.5 billion passengers globally. Airlines and airports face a potential loss of revenue of up to 314 billion USD and 100 billion USD, respectively, for 2020.

Risk-based stages for mitigation measures

Resumption of higher volumes of passenger air travel will be dependent on a number of factors, including foremost public health agency guidelines (driven by travel risk levels), governmental travel restrictions and requirements, passenger confidence, and air carrier and airport operational capacity.


A risk-based approach will enable the transition between stages of restarting operations and the adjustment of mitigation measures based on risk, while recognizing that reverting to previous stages may be necessary. The goal is to maximize consistency and develop criteria for data reporting and the monitoring processes in support of evaluation and progression to the next stage(s). It is currently not feasible to provide any specificity of timing between these stages. At the time this document was published, most of commercial passenger aviation was in Stage 0 or 1.

Stage 0:

A situation with travel restrictions and only minimal movement of passengers between major domestic and international airports.

Stage 1:

Initial increase of passenger travel. This initial stage will coincide with relatively low passenger volumes, allowing airlines and airports to introduce aviation public health practices appropriate to the volume. There will be significant challenges as each stakeholder community adapts to both increased demand and the new operational challenges associated with risk mitigation. Health measures for travel required at airports will need to, at a minimum match those from other local modes of transport and infrastructure.

Stage 2:

As health authorities review the applicability of measures based on recognized medical criteria, passenger volumes will continue to increase. Several measures that were required in Stages 0 and 1 may be lifted. Health measures for travel required at airports will need to match those from other local modes of transport and infrastructure.

Stage 3:

This stage may occur when the virus outbreak has been sufficiently contained in a critical mass of major destinations worldwide as determined by health authorities. The reduction of national health alert levels and associated loosening of travel restrictions will be key triggers. Risk mitigation measures will continue to be reduced, modified, or will be stopped in this stage. There may not be effective pharmaceutical interventions (e.g. therapies or vaccines) commonly available during Stage 3, but contact tracing and testing should be readily available. Until specific and effective pharmaceutical interventions are available, States may need to continue to loosen or reinstate public health and social measures throughout the pandemic.

Stage 4:

This stage begins when specific and effective pharmaceutical interventions are readily available in most countries. There may be a set of residual measures/mitigations that could be retained, although these should also undergo a periodic review process.


Note: There are no hard boundaries in these stages and the transition between them can be in either direction.

Source: ICAO, CART Takeoff Guidance 


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