Turning off mobile phones or placing them in airplane mode during takeoff and landing has been a requirement on many flights for a long time now. The measure aims to prevent earlier versions of mobile networks from interfering with aircraft communication and navigation equipment. But some flights have now permitted passengers to use mobile devices while in flight – and have even put up onboard masts for mobile phone calls.
Because of this, DGAC sent a bulletin to airlines recommending that 5G devices be turned off or put in airplane mode during a flight. It also issued a guidance that in case a 5G device disrupts an aircraft's equipment, the aircrew should immediately notify air traffic controllers. The ground crew can then alert airport authorities on the matter.
According to the French civil aviation authority, 5G causes "signal interference from a close frequency source, of a strength that is similar or even superior to that of altimeters." This interference can affect "instruments that are extremely critical during landing."
DGAC also told mobile networks to ensure 5G cell sites are located an ample distance away from French airports to limit the risk of interference. The authority had already issued restrictions on the signal strength coming from these sites and has been doing further testing since November of last year after French mobile operators were permitted to roll out 5G. DGAC added it will continue monitoring signals from 5G base stations and testing the impact of the new mobile technology on flights.
5G technology provides faster connectivity and more bandwidth, which translates to higher download speeds for internet users. It uses radio waves with much higher frequencies – from three gigahertz to 300 gigahertz – compared to earlier technologies, allowing more devices to connect at the same time. But 5G waves travel shorter distances, requiring more masts to carry the signal. 5G waves are also easily blocked by vegetation and walls – making 5G boosting technology a necessity within buildings.
5G technology has alarmed environmentalists and consumer watchdog groups from the beginning mainly focused on its negative effects on health. An early instance from 2018 revealed the risks of 5G technology installed in street lamps. Fifty-eight-year-old Mark Steele from the northern English town of Gateshead has raised awareness of 5G's dangers, citing examples of his fellow residents. He said that a number of people in his town experienced nosebleeds, insomnia and other neurological problems ever since the street lamps were installed in 2016.
He further remarked that in his own circle of friends, three women lost their babies within months of the installation of 5G. Of these three women, one baby was born with severe defects and survived for only a few hours. "We are seeing babies dying in the womb as these transmitters are situated outside people's bedroom windows. It's a humanitarian crisis," Steele commented. (Related: 7 Reasons why 5G is a threat to overall health.)
Since Steele unveiled the dangers of 5G in 2018, and many subsequent studies have confirmed the risks associated with this technology. EM Radiation Research Trust wrote a letter to the UK government in October 2019, with its main message being: "It is not appropriate to impose untested 5G radiation throughout the U.K."
Researchers from the trust mentioned scientific literature that outlined the negative effects of 5G waves such as behavioral and developmental problems, fertility damage and increased cell death. They also expressed concern over the fact that "special interests and industry lobbying are playing a role" in suppressing the dangers of 5G technology.
Ultimately, a professor from the University of Edinburgh suggested delaying any further rollout of 5G globally. Physician and epidemiologist John William Frank said that it is best to "err on the side of caution" by holding up the implementation of 5G technology worldwide. (Related: 5G Danger: Hundreds of respected scientists sound the alarm about health effects as 5G networks go up nationwide.)