US airlines warn rollout of 5G networks could cause major disruption
Donald Trump appointed FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr issued a statement Wednesday blaming the Biden administration for the chaotic rollout of Verizon and AT&T’s 5G wireless, which caused several airlines to cancel or delay flights in and into the US over fears that the technology would disrupt aircraft instruments.
“This is a clear failure of leadership. At any point in time, the White House could have stood up and sided with the science. They didn’t,” Mr Carr said.
Major international airlines have begun cancelling flights to the United States after the Federal Aviation Administration raised concerns about 5G wireless towers near airports.
Emirates, Air India, Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways announced it would suspend flights after the Airlines for America trade group pressured the Biden administration over “catastrophic disruption” due to the scheduled 19 January rollout.
Emirates suspended flights into nine airports, including Boston, Chicago O’Hare, Dallas Fort Worth, George Bush Intercontinental in Houston, Miami, Newark, Orlando, San Francisco and Seattle. It said it would continue flying into New York’s John F. Kennedy airport, the Los Angeles airport and Washington Dulles. Sir Tim Clark, the airline’s president, called the US government and the wireless companies “delinquent” and “irresponsible” for creating the conditions that allowed for the chaos to occur.
The high-speed 5G internet uses so-called C-band frequencies close to those used by aircraft to measure their altitude, with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) warning potential interference could affect sensitive aeroplane instruments such as altimeters and significantly hamper low-visibility operations.
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BREAKING: AT&T delays switching on 5G near airports after airlines warn of ‘catastrophic disruption’
Wireless telecom giant AT&T announced the activation of 5G towers near some US airports would be delayed after airlines warned of “catastrophic disruption” of flights near certain airports.
A day before AT&T is due to switch on its 5G towers, the company blasted the Federal Aviation Administration after airline CEOs asked the Biden administration warning the launch on Wednesday could cause thousands of flight cancellations affecting more than 100,000 passengers.
‘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,’ AT&T officials said in a statement on Tuesday.
HOW COULD 5G AFFECT FLIGHTS?
Following a flurry of headlines about the delay to the rollout of high-speed 5G internet in the US, many travellers have concerns about its potential effect on flight safety.
In early January, US mobile networks Verizon and AT&T agreed to push back their 5G rollouts - originally planned for December - until 19 January over aviation concerns, following a request from transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
However, this week top airline executives sent a letter to Buttigieg and other federal officials, saying in no uncertain terms that if the rollout goes ahead this week as planned, it could be “catastrophic” for the aviation industry.
So should we be worried about the dawn of 5G?
Here’s Lucy Thackray with everything we know so far.
What are the potential effects of 5G on planes?
Watch: Pilots association slams 5G launch as ‘reckless’
Allied Pilots Association spokesperson Dennis Tajer said on Tuesday suggested that the rollout of 5G near airports could put the lives of passengers at risk.
“This is reckless, it’s dangerous, and it’s got to stop,” Tajer told the Today Show on Tuesday.
“Take a pause. This is about a cellphone signal, and we’re focused on protecting lives.”
Watch the full exchange below:
White House convinced AT&T and Verizon to delay activation of 500 towers, report says
The Biden administration took an “active role” in convincing wireless carriers like AT&T and Verizon to delay the launch of 5G towers near airports, according to Reuters.
The outlet reported nearly all but a handful of the towers impacted by the delay belong to Verizon. While it was unclear how many that included, sources told Reuters that airlines proposed about 500 towers, or 10 per cent of the planned rollout, remain temporarily offline.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement that the Biden administration is “committed to reaching a solution around 5G”.
Joe Biden says Verizon and AT&T agreement avoids ‘potentially devastating disruptions’
Joe Biden weighed into the 5G delay, saying to the agreement to delay activation of 10 per cent of towers would “avoid potentially devastating disruptions to passenger travel, cargo operations, and our economic recovery”.
He added that the White House has been engaging the wireless carriers, airlines, and aviation equipment manufacturers to find a solution.
“At my direction, they will continue to do so until we close the remaining gap and reach a permanent, workable solution around these key airports,” he said.
READ IN FULL: Statement by President Biden on 5G Agreement
January 18, 2022 Statement by President Biden on 5G Agreement
I want to thank Verizon and AT&T for agreeing to delay 5G deployment around key airports and to continue working with the Department of Transportation on safe 5G deployment at this limited set of locations. This 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. This agreement protects flight safety and allows aviation operations to continue without significant disruption and will bring more high-speed internet options to millions of Americans. Expanding 5G and promoting competition in internet service are critical priorities of mine, and tomorrow will be a massive step in the right direction. My team has been engaging non-stop with the wireless carriers, airlines, and aviation equipment manufacturers to chart a path forward for 5G deployment and aviation to safely co-exist – and, at my direction, they will continue to do so until we close the remaining gap and reach a permanent, workable solution around these key airports.
Air India, Japan Airlines and Emirates cancel US flights over 5G
Before the Biden administration stepped in on the delay of 5G towers near airports, deInternational carriers had begun cancelling flights to the US over the uncertainty around the wireless network.
So far, flights to the US have been cancelled by Air India, Japan Airlines, Emirates and ANA, according to Flight Tracker, which follows air traffic around the globe.
Earlier, the FAA warned carriers that the 5G signal could disrupt instruments of certain aircraft.
Air India said in a statement it was standing by to change its aircraft type flying to the US from 19 January.
FAA sets rules for some Boeing 787 landings near 5G service
Before today’s delay, federal safety officials directed operators of some Boeing planes to adopt extra procedures when landing on wet or snowy runways near impending 5G service because, they say, interference from the wireless networks could mean that the planes need more room to land.
The Federal Aviation Administration said Friday that interference could delay systems like thrust reversers on Boeing 787s from kicking in, leaving only the brakes to slow the plane.
That “could prevent an aircraft from stopping on the runway,” the FAA said.
The agency is still studying whether those wireless networks will interfere with altimeters, which measure an aircraft’s height above the ground. Data from altimeters is used to help pilots land when visibility is poor.
The FAA is conducting tests to learn how many commercial planes have altimeters that might be vulnerable to spectrum interference. The agency said this week it expects to estimate the percentage of those planes soon, but didn’t put a date on it.
“Aircraft with untested altimeters or that need retrofitting or replacement will be unable to perform low-visibility landings where 5G is deployed,” the agency said in a statement. - AP
5G roll-out should be stopped everywhere while ‘adverse health effects’ are investigated, expert claims
Before the roll-out of 5G was slammed to a halt near airports, a health expert warned the entire network should be delayed to further investigate potential risks of “adverse health effects”.
Professor John William Frank from the Usher Institute at the University of Edinburgh claimed that no more transmitter towers should be built in order to limit public exposure while safety standards are reviewed.
In an opinion piece published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, Professor Frank wrote that the radio frequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMFs) emitted by 5G towers could cause negative “biological effects”
“A growing number of engineers, scientists, and doctors internationally [are] calling on governments to raise their safety standards for RF-EMFs, commission more and better research, and hold off on further increases in public exposure, pending clearer evidence of safety,” he wrote.
“It is highly likely that each of these many forms of transmission causes somewhat different biological effects – making sound, comprehensive and up-to-date research on those effects virtually impossible.”
The Independent’s Anthony Cuthbertson has the full story:
University of Edinburgh professor calls for ‘a moratorium on exposure, pending adequate scientific investigation’
FAA and airline trade industry that brought down 5G rollout respond to delay
For such a major victory in the high-stakes game of chicken with wireless telecom giants, the architects of the 5G delay were muted in their response to the win.
Nicholas Calio, president of the Airlines for America trade group, thanked federal officials for reaching the deal with AT&T and Verizon.
“Safety is and always will be the top priority of U.S. airlines. We will continue to work with all stakeholders to help ensure that new 5G service can coexist with aviation safely,” Calio said.
The FAA, meanwhile, said it looks forward “to using the additional time and space to reduce flight disruptions associated with this 5G deployment.”
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