Airlines Have a Dire Warning on 5G Rollout

They say it could lead to 'catastrophic' flight disruptions
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 18, 2022 12:34 AM CST
Updated Jan 18, 2022 6:48 AM CST
Airlines: 5G Rollout Could Be 'Catastrophic'
A United Airlines flight prepares for takeoff, with Delta and American Airlines flights seen at gates, at Reagan National Airport, in Arlington, Va., Monday, Dec. 27, 2021.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Verizon and AT&T are set to deploy new 5G service Wednesday—and in a letter to federal officials Monday, major airlines warned there could be "catastrophic" consequences. As Axios notes, the dispute between the airlines and the wireless companies has been going on a while, with the aviation industry having previously warned that interference from 5G signals, particularly during bad weather, could force planes to divert and the FAA having announced restrictions on low-visibility landings at certain airports as a result of that. The wireless carriers have twice delayed the rollout over these concerns, CNN reports. Now, CEOs of 10 airlines including American, Delta, United, and Southwest say there could be "catastrophic disruption" to flight schedules if the C-band 5G deployment goes ahead as planned.

They're asking the Biden administration to allow it to be "implemented everywhere in the country except within the approximate 2 miles of" certain airport runways. Per an FAA statement, there were 88 US airports that, as of Jan. 5, would not have been available for landing during low-visibility conditions after the 5G C-band is deployed. But the wireless carriers agreed that for six months, buffer zones would be created around airports with transmitters nearby in order to reduce the risk from interference, and as of Sunday, the FAA had cleared an estimated 45% of the US commercial fleet to land in low visibility at many of those airports (because those planes use newly approved radio altimeter models). That means as many as 48 of those 88 airports are now OK for low-visibility landing. In the letter, the CEOs warn that "unless our major hubs are cleared to fly, the vast majority of the traveling and shipping public will essentially be grounded." (More Delta Air Lines stories.)

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