Airline Trade Group seeks to delay launch of 5G communications

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WASHINGTON (AP) – US airlines are asking the Federal Communications Commission to delay the planned deployment of the new 5G wireless service this week near dozens of major airports, saying it could interfere with the electronics on which pilots count.

Airlines for America, a trade group for major U.S. passenger and freight carriers, said in an emergency filing that the FCC had not sufficiently considered the damage 5G service could cause to the industry.

The group wants more time for the FCC and the Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates airlines, to resolve aviation safety concerns with a type of 5G service called C-Band.

AT&T and Verizon Communications previously agreed to a one-month deadline for 5G, which offers faster speeds when mobile devices connect to their networks and allows users to connect many devices to the internet without slowing it down.

On Friday evening, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson wrote to CEOs of AT&T and Verizon to suggest a delay in activating 5G C-band service near an unknown number of ‘priority airports’ while the FAA studies the potential for interference with aircraft. operations.

Buttigieg and Dickson said continued activation for next week “will cause widespread and unacceptable disruption as planes divert to other cities or flights are canceled,” while a delay around some airports would have minimal short-term impacts.

Verizon spokesman Richard Young said, “We received the letter a short time ago, after 6 p.m. on New Years Eve, and we will need time to review it.”

AT&T spokeswoman Kim Hart Jonson said the company is reviewing the letter.

The airline industry trade group has warned of significant damage if the 5G rollout continues near major airports.

“Planes will not be able to rely on radio altimeters for many flight procedures and therefore will not be able to land at some airports,” the group said in a filing Thursday. Radio altimeters measure the height of airplanes above the ground.

A4A, as the group is called, said its 11 member airlines are faced with the need to reroute or cancel “thousands” of flights, resulting in losses exceeding $ 1 billion.

The group said the new service would affect the three major airports in the New York area – LaGuardia, Kennedy and Newark, New Jersey – as well as O’Hare in Chicago, Logan in Boston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles International and San Francisco.

The trade group’s general counsel has threatened to take court action next week if the FAA does not respond to the group’s request for a delay.

The FAA said in early December that it would prevent pilots from using automated landing systems at some airports after the deployment of 5G or the fifth-generation wireless service, as it could interfere with radio altimeters. The FAA declined to comment on the airline group’s case.

CTIA, a trade group representing the wireless communications industry, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., Chairman of the House transport committee, sided with the airlines, saying on Friday the aviation and telecommunications industries should work together “to find a safe way to deploy 5G technologies. … We cannot afford to experiment with aviation safety.

Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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