Major US airline executives warn 5G rollout could bring ‘catastrophic’ crisis – National

The CEOs of major US passenger and cargo ships warned on Monday of an impending “catastrophic” aviation crisis in less than 36 hours when AT&T and Verizon have to implement new ones 5G service.

Airlines warned that the new C-Band 5G service, due to begin on Wednesday, could render a significant number of widebody planes unusable and “could potentially strand tens of thousands of Americans abroad” while causing “chaos” for US flights .

“Unless our large hubs are cleared to fly, the vast majority of travelers and shipping will essentially be grounded,” the top executives of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines and others wrote in a letter that was first reported by Reuters.


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That Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has warned that potential interference could affect sensitive aircraft instruments such as altimeters and significantly hamper low visibility operations.

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“This means that on a day like yesterday, more than 1,100 flights and 100,000 passengers will be subject to cancellations, diversions or delays,” the letter warned.

Airlines were considering late Monday whether to start canceling some international flights scheduled to arrive in the United States on Wednesday.

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“With the proposed restrictions at selected airports, the transport industry is preparing for some service disruption. We are optimistic that we can work across industries and with the government to finalize solutions that will safely mitigate as many scheduling impacts as possible,” aircraft maker Boeing said Monday. .

Action is urgent, the airlines added in the letter also signed by UPS Airlines, Alaska Air, Atlas Air, JetBlue Airways and FedEx Express.

“To be honest, the nation’s trade will stall,” the letter continued.

The letter went to White House National Economic Council Director Brian Deese, Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chair Jessica Rosenworcel.

Airlines for America, the group that organized the letter, declined to comment.


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The FAA said it “will continue to ensure the safety of the traveler while wireless companies implement 5G. The FAA continues to work with the aviation industry and wireless companies to try to limit 5G-related flight delays and cancellations.”

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The other public authorities have not commented.

Why is the 5G rollout considered risky?

AT&T and Verizon, which won nearly the entire C-Band spectrum in a $ 80 billion auction last year, agreed on January 3 to buffer zones around 50 airports to reduce interference risks and take other steps to reduce potential interference in six months. . They also agreed to postpone the broadcast for two weeks until Wednesday, which temporarily averted a safety stop in the aviation after previously delaying the service by 30 days.

Verizon and AT&T declined to comment Monday. They claim that C-Band 5G has been successfully implemented in about 40 other countries without any problems with aviation interference.

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Major airline executives and Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun held a lengthy call with Buttigieg and Dickson on Sunday to warn of the looming crisis, officials told Reuters.

United Airlines warned late Monday separately that the problem could affect more than 15,000 of its flights, 1.25 million passengers and snag tons of cargo annually.


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United said it faces “significant restrictions on 787s, 777s, 737s and regional aircraft in major cities such as Houston, Newark, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago.”

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Airlines are asking for “5G to be implemented throughout the country except within the approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) of airport runways” at some major airports.

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“Immediate intervention is needed to avoid significant operational disruptions for air passengers, dispatchers, the supply chain and the provision of necessary medical supplies,” they said.

The airlines added that flight restrictions will not be limited to operations in bad weather.

“Several modern safety systems on aircraft will be considered unusable, causing a much bigger problem than we knew … Aircraft manufacturers have informed us that there are huge parts of the operational fleet that may need to be grounded indefinitely. . “

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One area of ​​concern is whether some or all of the Boeing 777s will be unable to land at some major U.S. airports after the 5G service launches, as well as some Boeing cargo planes, airline officials told Reuters .

Airlines called for action to ensure “5G is deployed except when towers are too close to airport runways until the FAA can determine how it can be safely achieved without catastrophic disruption.”

The FAA said Sunday that it had estimated an estimated 45 percent of the U.S. commercial aircraft fleet to make bad landings at many airports where the 5G C-band will be deployed, and they expect to issue more approvals by Wednesday. T

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the airlines noted on Monday that the list did not include many major airports.


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