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Airlines Warn of Catastrophic Crisis Once 5G Services Rollout

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Silhouette of 5G smart mobile cellular network telephone radio network antenna | Airlines Warn of Catastrophic Crisis Once 5G Services Rollout | featured

Days after US airline officials successfully petitioned the government to delay the 5G services rollout, they’re at it again. They’re warning yet again of impending catastrophe if the new technology disrupts flights.

RELATED: Boeing and Airbus Warn Over 5G Technology Safety Concerns

5G Services Rollout Can Can US Commerce To Grind To A Halt

A smartphone displaying 5G symbol | 5G services rollout

On Monday, CEOs from five major US airlines sent a letter to administration officials led by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

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The group also sent copies to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) administrator Steve Dickson and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. 

“Unless our major hubs are cleared to fly, the vast majority of the traveling and shipping public will essentially be grounded,” wrote the officials.

The airlines that make up the group are American, Delta, United, Southwest, and JetBlue. In addition, delivery services UPS and FedEx also signed the note. 

5G Could Interfere With Sensitive Airplane Instrumentation

The letter warned that the 5G services rollout later this week might do more harm than good. They pointed out that the new C-Band 5G technology could interfere with critical airplane instruments such as radio altimeters.

This measures the distance between the airplane and the ground. Pilots depend on this instrument during occasions where visibility is low. 

If the interference happens, the 5G services rollout can lead to delays in 1,1000 flights. It will also mean cancellations, delays, or diversions for over 100,000 passengers. “To be blunt, the nation’s commerce will grind to a halt,” the executives said.

Government Already Postponed the 5G Services Rollout Last January 5

Earlier this month, the same group sent a letter requesting that the government delay the planned 5G rollout of AT&T and Verizon. The two companies won the bidding to operate the 5G network.

When the FCC and Transportation agreed to hold up the rollout for two weeks, the group, named Airlines for America, thanked Buttigieg, Dickson, and Deese. Verizon and AT&T agreed to postpone the January 5 rollout around certain airports for two weeks. The two companies will also propose mitigation measures. 

“Safety is and always will be the top priority of US airlines. We will continue to work with all stakeholders to help ensure that the new 5G service can coexist with aviation safely,” the letter said. 

Meanwhile, AT&T and Verizon agreed to create buffer zones around 50 US airports to reduce interference risks. They also plan to reduce potential interference for the next six months.

5G Services Rollout To Resume January 19

However, the moratorium will expire on January 19. This time, the airlines are now requesting that the rollout completely avoid areas around airport runways.

They asked government officials to prevent the deployment of 5G “within the approximate 2 miles (3.2 km) of airport runways” at key airports.“Immediate intervention is needed to avoid significant operational disruption to air passengers, shippers, supply chain, and delivery of needed medical supplies,” the note added. 

In addition, the group warned that flight restrictions will no longer be exclusive to poor weather.

The fear is that the 5G rollout can affect many modern safety systems. In fact, many aircraft manufacturers informed the group that they might need to ground a number of operational airplanes.

They want a 5G exemption until the “FAA can determine how that can be safely accomplished without catastrophic disruption.”

FAA Already Made Initial Tests With 45% of US Commercial Airplanes

However, the FAA said last Sunday that it already cleared around 45% of US commercial aircraft for operations.

They said that these cleared airplanes can safely perform low-visibility landings even on airports with 5G-C bands. Previously, experts warned that Medevac helicopters and other rescue aircraft might encounter disruptions from the new technology. 

According to a Bloomberg report, 5G can interfere with radio altimeter readings on emergency helicopters and other aircraft. While the 5G band won’t shut down electronic equipment, it can cause equipment to give out inaccurate readings.

Watch the PBS NewsHour video reporting that major US airlines warn 5G could ground planes, disrupt travel:

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