Shelley Van Hoof: Today, we’re speaking with Captain Adam Trowbridge, a Flight Test Engineer at the Aerospace Engineering Test Establishment. He will be telling us about flight tests that were recently conducted on the Griffon helicopter at the Carp Airport outside Ottawa.
What sort of testing was done?
Capt Trowbridge: We were evaluating the risk of interference from 5G cellular signals on an aircraft radio altimeter, or RADALT. There is a crew of three: The test pilot, an imagery specialist, and a flight test engineer, myself. We flew onboard the Griffon helicopter while a team of engineers and technologists operated the 5G base station on the ground beside the runway. This testing was coordinated by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, or ISED.
Shelley Van Hoof: I heard you mention RADALT. Can you tell us what that is and how it works?
Capt Trowbridge: Yes, the radio altimeter, or the RADALT, as it’s known in the aerospace field, sends a radio frequency pulse to the ground, and measures the time for it to bounce back to the aircraft. It uses this time to calculate the height of the aircraft above the ground, and displays this information to the pilot.
Shelley Van Hoof: How exactly did you test the Griffon helicopter for 5G interference?
Capt Trowbridge: We flew the Griffon helicopter in the 5G signal beam with the signal on, and then again with the signal off. The evaluators were monitoring the RADALT for irregularities or fluctuations that could cause difficulties for the pilot during low-level maneuvers.
Shelley Van Hoof: And why was it necessary to conduct flight tests to assess interference from 5G?
Capt Trowbridge: There is an intent to locate additional 5G frequencies to many countries, including Canada. Previous laboratory testing has shown that these 5G signals could cause interference with the RADALT or other aircraft systems. The Directorate of Technical Airworthiness and Engineering Support, or DTAES has supported the decision to confirm these findings with flight tests.
Shelley Van Hoof: Thanks again for chatting with us today.