5G interference problems could last for years, US airline group warns

Deepak Gupta February 2, 2022
Updated 2022/02/02 at 6:54 AM

It will likely take “years” to permanently resolve aircraft interference issues caused by the deployment of 5G wireless in the C-band, a group representing major US passenger and cargo carriers will inform US lawmakers on Thursday.

Nick Calio, who heads Airlines for America, will tell a House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee in written testimony that the 5G problems facing the aviation industry should have been avoided.

“The process that led to this operational nightmare should be considered a cautionary tale of government communication and coordination gone awry,” reads his testimony, reviewed by Reuters and not yet released.

“It will likely take years, not days or weeks, to fully and permanently mitigate the interference issues caused by deploying 5G in the C-band,” adds Calio, whose group represents American Airlines, United Airlines, FedEx and other major carriers. .

Verizon and AT&T agreed in January to delay the deployment of some 5G wireless towers near airports after the aviation industry and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) warned that 5G interference could affect sensitive aircraft electronics such as altimeters. radio.

The FAA said last week it had cleared 20 altimeter models and approved 90% of the U.S. commercial fleet for landing on low-visibility approaches in 5G C-band areas. But 5G has impacted some flights in bad weather, especially some regional jets.

Aerospace Industries Association President Eric Fanning will tell lawmakers that the problem is being addressed, but not yet resolved.

“With many outstanding issues still on the table, there are interruptions to our future, even with more commitment and collaboration,” says his statement.

The hearing will also feature testimony from FAA Administrator Steve Dickson, CTIA Wireless Industry Group CEO Meredith Attwell Baker, and others.

A spokesperson for the committee said the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was invited to testify but was unable to attend. The FCC did not immediately comment.

Baker will tell lawmakers that the wireless industry “remains confident that 5G poses no risk to air traffic safety.”

Airline Pilots Association President Joe DePete says the FCC’s support for the telecommunications industry “has not only put the public at risk, but also forced pilots to undertake extensive workarounds to ensure flight safety.”

Cathryn Stephens, an airport official representing the American Association of Airport Executives, will tell lawmakers that “pockets of pain persist and it is clear that the suspension may be temporary and dependent on telecoms willingness to operate on a limited basis. in some areas.”

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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