US Airlines Warn 5G Rollout Will Cause Catastrophic Disruption Requiring Immediate Intervention

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Airlines of America sent a letter stating that if there is no intervention on the upcoming 5G rollout in certain areas, there could be catastrophic consequences. The letter came just two days before the roll out by wireless carriers of the its new C-Band 5G service.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), issued an Airworthiness Directive for pilots amid concerns the mid-band wireless signals might interfere with aviation electronics back in December of last year. The new rule forbade pilots from using auto-landing or certain other flight systems at low altitudes. The FAA has been collecting data and information concerning the rollout of the new service by wireless carriers in an attempt to reduce the risk to safety and normal flight operations. But it seems the work the FAA has done thus far still falls short of what at least a few US airlines are comfortable with.

The letter was posted on Twitter by Reuters reporter David Shepardson. The group of airlines, known as Airlines of America, voiced its continued concerns surrounding the impending C-Band 5G rollout that is supposed to happen on January 19th. The letter is addressed to, "Director Deese, Secretary Buttigieg, Administrator Dickson and Chairwoman Rosenworcel".
Airlines have warned that the new C-Band 5G service could cause a number of widebody aircraft unusable, and "could potentially strand tens of thousands of Americans overseas," as well as cause "chaos" for a number of US flights.

The letter states, "We are writing with urgency to request that 5G be implemented everywhere in the country except within the approximate 2 miles of airport runways at affected airports as defined by the FAA on January 19, 2022."

Airlines of America is comprised of chief executives from American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and others. The group stated, "Unless our major hubs are cleared to fly, the vast majority of the traveling and shipping public will essentially be grounded." The letter continued, "This means that on a day like yesterday, more than 1,100 flights and 100,000 passengers would be subjected to cancellations, diversions or delays."

The new C-Band 5G, which wireless carriers like Verizon and AT&T spent a combined $70 billion acquiring last year, is expected to provide much faster and far reaching service for its customers. The current version of 5G has a much more limited scope of coverage, and while it is faster than 4G, it has not delivered on the speeds many had been hoping for.

AT&T and Verizon had agreed to a two week delay to launch the upgraded 5G networks, after giving in to pressure from the FAA and airline companies. The delay came in the face of concerns over how the C-Band spectrum could interfere with radio altimeters, which rely on similar signals to measure how far off the ground an airplane is at any given point and time. Before the agreed delay, carriers offered to create special exclusion zones around airports where they would not deploy C-Band 5G for six months.

In the letter it is pointed out, "Second, flight restrictions will not be limited to poor weather operations. Because altimeters provide critical information to other safety and navigation systems in modern airplanes, multiple modern safety systems on aircraft will be deemed unusable causing a much larger problem than what we knew on January 5, 2022."

As of right now, there has been no response from the FAA, or the wireless carriers. If no action is taken, then tomorrow may indeed be an interesting day for those taking to the skies.