Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea Limited (Vi) have written to Vumlunmang Vualnam, secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), requesting to push the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to set a deadline for the replacement of obsolete radio altimeter (RA) systems in all airline companies operating in India. The telcos believe that it will permanently address aircraft and passenger safety concerns around the issue having 5G near airports, and further help break the logjam over the roll-out of next-generation mobile broadband networks near airports.

The letter from the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) requested DGCA to mandate all airline carriers operating in India to complete replacements of non-conforming RAs within 18 months, starting September 1, 2023. Meanwhile, COAI added that the DGCA have already been receiving various requests to mandate retrofitting of compliant RAs, but the exercise has been delayed, which is clogging 5G rollouts near airports across the country.

The COAI also noted that Boeing had already informed DGCA in June 2023, regarding retrofitting non-conforming RAs in aircraft operational in India, could be completed within 18 months, factoring in various issues related to supply chain and logistics. The DGCA has to also ensure that the dashboard for tracking the replacements for the obsolete RA system by airlines is in the public domain.