Flight disruption likely over 5G signals-airline experts

Airline executives have warned that interference from 5G signals using C-band spectrum could lead to flight disruptions.

According to Cnet, these industry executives said that if the United States wireless carriers push forward with its plans to begin deploying a specific type of 5G service early next year in spite of interference concerns brought to light by the Federal Aviation Administration, travellers could see delays and other disruptions in air travel starting from January 5, 2022.

United Airlines Chief Executive Officer, Scott Kirby told reporters following a Senate Commerce Committee that if AT&T and Verizon continue with their plans to begin using C-band spectrum for 5G service in January, his airline could be forced to divert or cancel about 4 per cent of daily flights, affecting hundreds of thousands of passengers.

He said, “It would be a catastrophic failure of the government.

“Coming Jan. 5 — unless something changes — we will not be able to use radio altimeters at 40-something of the largest airports in the country. It is a certainty. This is not a debate.”

According to Kirby, this potential interference issues between the 5G cell towers and the altimeters would require that during bad weather, such as cloud cover or even heavy smog, pilots would have to only do visual approaches instead of using sensitive instruments to guide their landing.

Last month, the FAA said there was a likelihood of interference between key cockpit safety devices and cell towers on the ground transmitting 5G signals.

Last week, the FAA issued new directives to the airline industry warning that interference from 5G signals using the C-band spectrum could result in flight diversions, although the agency didn’t quantify the impact.

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly told lawmakers at the Senate hearing that if the FAA directive takes effect, it would be a significant setback to airline operations.

AT&T and Verizon, have said they would take precautions to make sure cell towers transmitting 5G signals do not interfere with aircraft signals.

The carriers, alongside experts from the FCC, have said there are no serious interference issues.

A Verizon spokesman said, “Air safety is of paramount importance, but there is no evidence that 5G operations using C-band spectrum pose any risk to aviation safety, as the real-world experience in dozens of countries already using this spectrum for 5G confirms.

“While the new directives suggest the FAA plans to further analyse this issue, we are confident that it will conclude — as the FCC already found — that 5G over C Band poses no risk to air safety.”


Article first published on the Punch Website

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