Why 5G rollout is causing flight cancellations of AirIndia, Emirates


Several international airlines have raised concerns around the 5G rollout in the last few months. In the latest update, airlines including Air India, Emirates, All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, among others announced flights cancellation to the United States starting Wednesday, January 19. Also Read – Apple iPhone SE (2022) to get the same old 2017 design, but with 5G: Report

Chief executives of major US passenger and cargo airlines have warned of a “catastrophic” aviation crisis after AT&T and Verizon planned to deploy new 5G services. Airlines have estimated 1,000 flight disruptions per day due to the possible interference with radar altimeters, which pilots use to land in low visibility situations. Also Read – CES 2022: TCL showcases multiple new products including AR/VR glasses, laptop, mini LED TVs and more

5G vs airlines

As per Reuters, airlines believe that the new C band 5G service could “render a significant number of aircraft unusable, causing chaos for US flights and potentially stranding tens of thousands of Americans overseas.” Also Read – India starts testing 5G technology in Gujarat’s Ajol village

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has also warned that the new 5G technology could interfere with aircraft instruments such as altimeters, which operate in the 4.2-4.4 GHz range. The concern is that the auctioned frequencies are quite close to this range. Airlines have warned the 5G service could disrupt around 4 percent of daily flights.

Last month, United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said that the FAA’s 5G directives could restrict the use of radio altimeters in around 40 biggest US airports. On the contrary, telecom giants, Verizon and AT&T have said that C band 5G has been deployed seamlessly without any aviation interference issues.


Flights to the US cancelled

In the latest update, several international airlines have announced to cancel flights to the United States. These airlines include — Emirates, Air India, All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, and a few others.

Emirates announced to suspend flights to nine US airports, including Boston, Chicago O’Hare, Dallas Fort Worth, George Bush Intercontinental in Houston, Miami, Newark, Orlando, San Francisco, and Seattle. The airline confirmed continued operation into New York’s John F. Kennedy airport, the Los Angeles airport and Washington Dulles.

“We are working closely with aircraft manufacturers and the relevant authorities to alleviate operational concerns, and we hope to resume our US services as soon as possible,” Emirates said in an official statement.

Air India also said to suspend services between Delhi Airport and few US airports such as San Francisco, Chicago, and JFK. The airline also announced the suspension of flights from Mumbai to Newark. Air India will continue to fly into Washington D.C.’s Dulles International Airport.

ANA and Japan Airlines have also announced cancellation of flights to the US scheduled to use Boeing 777 aircraft. These airlines confirmed to continue to operate flights using Boeing 787.


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Delta Air Lines also said that it has plans of weather-related cancellations over the new 5G service rolled out in the vicinity of dozens of US airports. The airline said in an official statement, “telecom companies agreed Tuesday to limit the scope of Wednesday’s planned 5G deployment and will delay implementation around certain U.S. airports. While this is a positive development toward preventing widespread disruptions to flight operations, some flight restrictions may remain”.

What telecom operators say

Both AT&T and Verizon recently said that they will delay activating 5G on some towers around a few US airports. The rollout was scheduled for Wednesday.

Commenting on the matter, Megan Ketterer, AT&T Spokesperson said, “we are frustrated by the FAA’s inability to do what nearly 40 countries have done, which is to safely deploy 5G technology without disrupting aviation services, and we urge it do so in a timely manner”.

The Biden government welcomed the delay in installation and said that the “agreement will avoid potentially devastating disruptions to passenger travel, cargo operations, and our economic recovery, while allowing more than 90 percent of wireless tower deployment to occur as scheduled.”


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