The threat from 5G networks that have been deployed near major airports in America has now caused several foreign airlines to cancel flights to the United States. The concern is that these networks will now cause interference issues with flights taking off and landing at the airports.
Emirates Airline said that it would suspend flights to nine cities in America, according to The Wall Street Journal. It was also reported that Japan Airlines Co. along with All Nippon Airways Co. said that Boeing had advised them not to fly the 777 into the United States because of the 5G network deployment. Air India has also announced that they will cancel some of the flights coming to the United States by 777 jets.
A statement from Emirates Airline said that they were suspending flights “due to operational concerns associated with the planned deployment of 5G mobile network services. Customers holding tickets with the final destination to any of the above will not be accepted at the point of origin.”
This statement was echoed by Air India, Nippon Airways, and Japan Airlines.
The primary issue is focused on concerns that 5G networks close to airports may cause problems with an aircraft’s instrumentation functioning in the proper way.
It was reported by CNN Business that transportation regulators were concerned that the new version of 5G which is ready to be activated in January of 2022 may interfere with some airplane instruments. This fear is shared by a number of aviation industry groups, in spite of the fact that there have been reassurances from federal telecom regulators and wireless carriers.
But the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is concerned that 5G cellular antennas close to airports could change readings from some aircraft equipment. They are not concerned that the new 5G network will cause problems through air travelers’ mobile devices. The instruments that could be affected communicate to pilots how far they are from the ground. These systems are called radar altimeters, they are used throughout the flight and are considered critical equipment in an airplane.
Because of the growing concern and controversy, major service providers released statements announcing that they would delay or limit the deployment of the new 5G technology for now.
An AT&T spokesperson said in a statement, “At our sole discretion we have voluntarily agreed to temporarily defer turning on a limited number of towers around certain airport runways as we continue to work with the aviation industry and the FAA to provide further information about our 5G deployment since they have not utilized the two years they’ve had to responsibly plan for this deployment.”
AT&T also explained that they were frustrated by the inability of the FAA to do what close to 40 countries have done. These other nations have safely deployed 5G technology without any concern from aviation services. They urged the FAA to do the same in a timely manner.
These service providers are planning to launch the 5G service everywhere else across the nation with the exception of a limited number of towers near airports. Verizon also announced that it would limit 5G networks around airports.
Verizon said in a statement, “The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and our nation’s airlines have not been able to fully resolve navigating 5G around airports, despite it being safe and fully operational in more than 40 other countries. Thanks to the best team in the industry for delivering this technology which promises a revolutionary next step in wireless communications including tremendous benefits for our nation.”
On January 18, 2022, President Joe Biden thanked the telecom giants for agreeing to delay the deployment for the third time. It remains to be seen if this controversy between the telecom giants and the airline industry will come to an agreement anytime soon.