US Airlines Warn 5G Wireless Could Cause Havoc With Flights

Major U.S. air carriers warned on Wednesday that plans by AT&T and Verizon to use spectrum for 5G wireless services could be highly disruptive to air travel and cost air passengers $1.6 billion annually in delays. Reuters reports: Trade group Airlines for America (A4A) said if a new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) directive for addressing potential interference from wireless transmissions had been in effect in 2019 "approximately 345,000 passenger flights, 32 million passengers, and 5,400 cargo flights would have been impacted in the form of delayed flights, diversions, or cancellations." At a hearing Wednesday, senators urged airlines to work to find a resolution. United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said the 5G wireless issue "is the biggest and most damaging potential issue facing us. We want nothing more than to work to a solution." Southwest Airlines Chief Executive Gary Kelly said the FAA directive "would significantly impact our operations once it is deployed on Jan. 5." The wireless carriers are set to begin using the spectrum in just three weeks. Last week, the FAA issued new airworthiness directives warning interference from 5G wireless spectrum could result in flight diversions. The aviation industry and FAA have raised significant concerns about potential interference of 5G with sensitive aircraft electronics like radio altimeters. In November, AT&T and Verizon agreed to delay the commercial launch of C-band wireless service until Jan. 5 after the FAA raised concerns. They also adopted precautionary measures for six months to limit interference. The FAA directives order revising airplane and helicopter flight manuals to prohibit some operations requiring radio altimeter data when in the presence of 5G C-Band wireless broadband signals. Aviation industry groups said they were insufficient to address air safety concerns. FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, who did not immediately comment on the airlines' analysis, has said she believes the issues can be resolved and spectrum safely used.

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