The latest hurdle in a dispute over concerns that 5G mobile phone service could interfere with aeroplane equipment prompted major international airlines to cancel flights to the United States or change the planes they were flying on U.S. routes. The United States isn’t the first to bring out 5G service.
Dozens of other nations have implemented similar mobile networks, many with concessions like lowering the power of networks near airports. There are two sides to every conflict: the Federal Communications Commission, which represents telecom corporations, and the Federal Aviation Administration, which represents airlines.
Carriers’ responses to the worldwide travel problem ranged wildly, with Emirates drastically curtailing its flights to the United States to Air France, indicating it will continue operating as usual.
Emirates’ president, Tim Clark, was blunt in his assessment of the problem. He told CNN it was “one of the most delinquent, utterly irresponsible” situations he’d ever seen as it involved a failure by government, science, and industry.
A new band of 5G networks was to be turned on across the United States last week by U.S. wireless network providers, including AT&T and Verizon, and they mostly did.
Last week, AT&T and Verizon agreed at the last minute to halt the launch of a new high-speed cellular service near-critical airports. It was not immediately evident whether affected airlines considered this. Boeing’s 777, which is widely used by airlines throughout the world, has been warned by the FAA and Boeing that the new service will significantly impact the plane.
Several airlines have stated that they will use other planes to keep their schedules unchanged.
Why? On some of the most regularly used planes globally, a particular system has been installed, and the new radio towers could potentially convey the wrong signals and do severe harm.
Radio altimeters, devices that measure the height of aeroplanes above the ground and assist pilots in landing in poor visibility, are like the 5G service’s use of a portion of the radio spectrum. The FCC established that 5G could be used safely near air traffic, which placed a buffer between the band used by planes and the 5G band. According to their statements, Verizon and AT&T claim that their equipment will not interfere with the electronic systems in aeroplanes.
Think of an old smartphone that still functions wonderfully to give you an idea of what I’m talking about. A good old phone still works flawlessly for apps built at the time it was made and can make phone calls and all that using networks that were in use at the time you purchased it.
Whilst you are navigating a route, your phone’s GPS suddenly tells you that you are located in Melbourne rather than the actual location you are in. With a small number of planes, this is precisely what is happening. Although this 5G ‘Band C’ switch will not affect all planes equally, some passenger planes like the Boeing 777 and the Boeing 747-8i will, and some may be extra cautious.
Last Wednesday, Emirates announced it would halt flights to several American cities but continue flights to Los Angeles, New York, and Washington.
“We are working closely with aircraft manufacturers and the relevant authorities to alleviate operational concerns, and we hope to resume our U.S. services as soon as possible,” the state-owned airline said.
Of particular concern appeared to be the Boeing 777, and Emirates only flies that model and the Airbus A380, which does not have this issue.
All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, Air India similarly said that they had been informed that 5G signals “may interfere with the radio altimeter installed on the Boeing 777.” And therefore, they also temporarily suspend services to the U.S.
Despite this, Air France has stated that it will continue to fly Boeing 777s into U.S. airports. However, it did not explain why it did not change its planes as many other carriers have done.
Korean Air, Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific, and Austrian Airlines all announced that they rearranged flights intended to use 777s with planes of a different type.
Several Boeing 777 flights to the United States were cancelled by British Airways, while others were rescheduled.
Surprisingly one day later on Thursday CNN reported that all the services were returning to normal.
In a statement, Japan Airlines said it had “got confirmation from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) that there is no longer a concern with the operation of the Boeing 777” and will “continue service to the US mainland” as usual.
Flights will resume on Thursday, according to All Nippon, “based on the FAA notification that there is no safety risk.”
Beginning Thursday, Lufthansa said it would “run normally and according to schedule with the previously planned aircraft types for their flights to the United States.”
Emirates, which had suspended flights to nine US airports, announced on Thursday that flights to Chicago, Dallas Fort Worth, Miami, Newark, Orlando, and Seattle would resume on Friday.
According to the airline, the FAA notification will allow it to “safely resume full scheduled operations to all of its US routes on Saturday.”
U.S. telecom businesses have expressed their discontent with the US FAA, the country’s aviation regulatory authority, for how they have handled the 5G problem, which has been made to work near airports in several countries in Europe and elsewhere in the world.