Warning: ‘calamity’ if 5G deployed near airports

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18 January 2022

The chief executives of America’s largest airlines warned of a “catastrophic disruption” to travel and shipping operations if telecommunication firms roll out their 5G technology as planned Wednesday without limiting the technology near US airports.

Verizon and AT&T have already twice delayed the launch of their new C-Band 5G service, due to warnings from airlines and aircraft manufacturers concerned that the new system might interfere with the devices planes use to measure altitude.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Sunday it had approved some transponders to be safely operated within areas where 5G will be deployed, clearing “as many as 48 of the 88 airports most directly affected by 5G C-Band interference.”

But the airlines are worried that remaining limitations at those airports, as well as a large amount of equipment still uncertified, could trigger a crisis including the grounding of thousands of flights.

In addition to the transport secretary, their letter was addressed to the head of the FAA, the head of the Federal Communications Commission and the White House’s National Economic Council.

US airlines also have protested against the potential costs incurred.

The executives called on authorities to “take whatever action necessary to ensure that 5G is deployed except when towers are too close to airport runways until the FAA can determine how that can be safely accomplished without catastrophic disruption.”