Major airlines and shippers made one last request to halt 5G rollout near US airports
Some of America’s largest commercial and cargo airlines have sounded the alarm about the potentially “devastating” effects of 5G services around airports, saying the technology can effectively stop travel and shipping.
Airlines for America – a lobbying group representing JetBlue, American Airlines, Southwest, United, Delta, UPS and FedEx, among others – issued a letter warned on Monday that the new 5G C-Band service could have a massive impact on aviation operations around the country and create a “completely avoidable economic disaster.”
“Unless our large hubs are cleared to fly, the vast majority of travelers and shipping will essentially be grounded,” it said, adding that up to 1,100 flights and 100,000 passengers could experience delays and cancellations a day.
The ripple effects across both passenger and freight operations, our workforce and the broader economy are simply unmanageable … To be straightforward, the nation’s trade will stall.
While the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has acknowledged that the new mobile network could disrupt key aircraft systems – namely radio altimeters, which help pilots land in low visibility – from Sunday, the agency said it had cleared less than half of the U.S. fleet to operate alongside C-Band towers. The latest update came just days ahead of a planned rollout to January 19, which in itself followed several delays due to the ongoing security issues.
The airlines, however, stressed that the interference goes beyond one system, such as altimeters “provide critical information to other safety and navigation systems in modern aircraft,” which could mean it “large parts of the operating fleet” is “infinitely grounded” until the issues are resolved.
Although airlines have long expressed opposition to a hasty 5G rollout and pressured the FAA and telecommunications companies for a number of delays, they said the problems are “significantly worse than … originally expected,” as they only recently discovered that many major airports will be under flight restrictions after January 19th.
Besides “chaos” These restrictions would result in the United States, including for air passengers, dispatchers, the supply chain and the provision of necessary medical supplies, the companies said. “Lack of usable widebody aircraft could potentially strand tens of thousands of Americans abroad.”
The companies urged the FAA to halt the construction of new 5G towers within two miles of selected airports until the regulators “determine how it can be safely achieved without catastrophic disruption.”
Verizon and AT&T are spearheading the C-Band rollout after winning about $ 80 billion in contracts to install the technology last year. While telecommunications carriers have agreed to set up temporary “buffer zones” around 50 major airports to give pilots time to reduce interference risks, the measure has failed to appease airlines, which continue to require further delays.
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