US Airlines warns of chaos if 5G mobile service rolls out this week

Two days before Verizon and AT&T plan to roll out more segments of their new 5G mobile internet technology, executives of the nation’s largest airlines warned again on Monday that thousands of flights could be grounded by interference from the technology and that “the country’s commerce a halt.”

In unusually pointed terms, the airline industry hinted in a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and other top federal officials that Verizon and AT&T’s plans could add to disruptions to the global shipping network that fueled inflation.

High-speed 5G internet uses so-called C-band frequencies close to those used by airplanes to measure their altitude. Airlines say the technology can interfere with instruments and create a serious safety hazard. Verizon and AT&T argued that the aviation industry has years to upgrade any equipment that might be affected.

The protest by the CEOs of Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, United Airlines and seven other passenger and cargo carriers threw into question an agreement reached this month between the Federal Aviation Administration and the telecommunications companies. The FAA said it would not oppose the rollout of the new technology after the companies promised to address security concerns by reducing the power of 5G transmitters near airports.

Airline executives said in their letter on Monday, which was reported earlier by Reuters, that aircraft manufacturers had informed them in recent weeks that the measures promised by Verizon and AT&T were not sufficient to prevent interference with aircraft. aircraft sensors. They called for 5G technology not to be activated within 2 miles of 50 major airports.

“Several modern safety systems on aircraft will be deemed inoperable,” according to the letter, which was on the letterhead of Airlines for America, an industry group. “Aircraft manufacturers have informed us that there are huge swathes of the operating fleet that may need to be grounded indefinitely,” stranding thousands of passengers and adding to supply chain unrest, the officials said. Airlines companies.

“Immediate action is required to avoid significant operational disruptions to air passengers, shippers, the supply chain and the delivery of needed medical supplies,” said the letter, which was also signed by the CEOs of FedEx Express and from UPS Airlines.

In a statement on Monday, the FAA said it “will continue to ensure the safety of the traveling public as wireless companies deploy 5G” and “continues to work with the aviation industry and wireless companies to try to limit 5G-related flight delays and cancellations.”

Spokespersons for AT&T and Verizon declined to comment.

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