5G Could Cause Aviation Chaos, Warn US Airlines


5G: The US airline industry has been on a collision course with AT&T phone companies and Verizon over the launch of 5G technology. The CEOs of the country’s 10 biggest airlines say that internet service interference could do more damage to air traffic than was initially thought.

The C-band of the new 5G service uses a segment of the radio spectrum very close to that used by altimeters, which are devices that measure the height of aircraft in relation to the ground. In this way, thousands of flights can be suspended or delayed if the technology is used near major airports.

AT&T and Verizon, two of the top US mobile phone companies, have rejected the federal government’s request to delay activation of its new 5G wireless service, following two earlier delays to the original plan for an early December launch.

What US Officials Say

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which administers radio spectrum auctions, determined that the C-band could be safely used in close proximity to air traffic. In 2020, the agency established a buffer between the 5G band and the spectrum that planes use to resolve any security issues.

But the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), responsible for air traffic safety in the US, has identified a potential problem. The FAA said it freed up nearly half (45%) “of the country’s commercial fleet to perform low-visibility landings at many of the airports where 5G C-band will be deployed.”

It added that it had approved “two models of radio altimeter installed on a wide variety of Boeing and Airbus aircraft.” Still, the agency says flights at some airports may be affected.