After airline protest: 5G launch postponed around US airports

Status: 01/19/2022 09:26 a.m

Because of possible interference with aircraft electronics, mobile operators A&T and Verizon are not introducing 5G technology near major US airports. Now the planes are to be upgraded.

The two telecommunications companies A&T and Verizon want to postpone the commissioning of new 5G services near key US airports. President Joe Biden welcomed the compromise, which would prevent potentially devastating disruptions to airline and cargo operations. It’s about airports that play a key role in aviation.

Nevertheless, more than 90 percent of the new radio masts in the USA, which enable significantly faster data transmission, could start today as planned. It is not yet known when the rest will follow. This is the third time AT&T and Verizon have postponed launches.

Airlines warn of chaos

The industry association Airlines for America had warned of possible interference from 5G with sensitive aircraft electronics such as radio altimeters and correspondingly catastrophic consequences if AT&T and Verizon did not give in. Many machines would become “unusable” with the deployment of 5G, leaving hundreds of thousands of Americans stranded abroad and creating chaos. On a day like last Sunday, more than 1,100 flights and 100,000 passengers would be affected by cancellations, diversions or delays, the companies explain.

The main issue here is the use of the frequency range known as the C-band. Aircraft must now be upgraded accordingly in order to continue to operate. Both Airbus and Boeing are said to be making corresponding updates. Despite this, airlines and the FAA expect some disruptions to flight operations.

No impairments in Europe

On Friday, the US air traffic control authority FAA had already ordered special measures for landings of the Boeing long-haul jet 787 “Dreamliner” due to safety concerns due to the introduction of 5G. If the runway is wet or snow-covered at airports with 5G service, additional precautions would have to be taken because the machines could need a longer braking distance, the authority said. Because of risks to aviation, the FAA had previously urged AT&T and Verizon to postpone the 5G rollout at airports, which was originally planned for January 5, by two weeks.

The Federal Network Agency announced that there is a significantly lower risk potential in Germany. The background is that other 5G frequencies are used than in the USA. “Nevertheless, further investigations are being carried out in the responsible European bodies with the participation of the Federal Network Agency, the flight safety authorities and representatives of the mobile communications and aviation industry in order to be able to rule out influences with certainty,” said the authority. In the first measurements in France and Norway, no concrete influences were found.

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