In less than 36 hours, when AT&T and Verizon are expected to launch C-Band 5G service, the CEOs of major US passenger and cargo airlines warned of possible ‘catastrophic’ aviation problems.
The US airlines have warned that the new C-Band 5G service, slated to launch on Wednesday, might render many widebody aircraft inoperable. The situation could strand tens of thousands of Americans overseas and cause chaos for the US flights.
According to a letter from the CEOs of United Airlines, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and others, most of the travelling and the shipping public will essentially be grounded. The letter, initially reported by Reuters, was sent to FAA Administrator Steve Dickson, White House National Economic Council director Brian Deese, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
“The vast bulk of the travelling and shipping public would be grounded unless our key hubs are allowed to fly,” wrote the CEOs of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and others in the letter.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has warned that possible interference could impair sensitive aircraft instruments such as altimeters and cause low-visibility operations issues. Such disruptions in operations could result in over 1,100 flights and 100,000 passengers being cancelled, diverted, or delayed.
Airlines debated whether to start cancelling some overseas flights due for arrival in the United States on Wednesday.
“The transportation industry is bracing for possible service disruptions as a result of the proposed limits at certain airports. We’re optimistic that we’ll be able to develop solutions that securely avoid as many schedule consequences as feasible by working across industries and with the government,” Boeing responded.
Airlines for America, the group that organised the letter, or other government agencies have not officially commented.
C-Band 5G successfully deployed in other 40 countries
According to AT&T and Verizon, C-Band 5G has been successfully deployed in about 40 other countries without significant aviation interference challenges. The duo won nearly all of the C-Band spectrum in an $80 billion auction held in 2021. They agreed to establish buffer zones around 50 airports to reduce interference dangers and take other steps to cut potential interference for six months. They also postponed deployment for two weeks until Wednesday, averting a potential aviation safety crisis. They had previously postponed service for 30 days.