Chaos in skies averted – for now – as 5G powers up

The FCC did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In a statement on Wednesday, United said the delays so far had been minimal. He also updated his opinion on the delayed flight to Houston; while it still blames 5G for the delay, it no longer directs people to complain to the FCC. Instead, it provides a link to a Federal Aviation Administration 5G Information Page. Rich Young, a spokesperson for Verizon, noted that Denver was not one of the airports subject to 5G and said United should “clarify the facts”.

After a deadly months-long battle over whether new 5G wireless services activated overnight would disrupt airplane safety equipment, AT&T and Verizon agreed on Tuesday to limit their 5G signals near major airports. That seemed to forestall the massive cancellations that airlines and the Department of Transportation warned about when Verizon and AT&T activated their new 5G service.

On Wednesday, Airlines for America, the trade group for most U.S. airlines, praised the Biden administration for its “action to avert catastrophic disruption.”

“While there is still work to be done by all stakeholders, this is an important step toward finding a permanent solution and allowing the United States to continue to lead the world on security. airline while expanding our country’s 5G network,” the group said.

Still, questions remain unanswered about how wireless signals might affect air travel, an issue the Federal Aviation Administration was seeking to address in detail for specific airports and aircraft models. On Wednesday, the FAA released more information about the planes and additional conditions, increasing US fleet coverage from around 45% to around 62%.

New 5G technology has the potential to interfere with aircraft altimeters – devices that measure the height of an aircraft above the ground – among other interconnected avionics and equipment, making it potentially dangerous for aircraft to land in poor weather conditions or low cloud cover during which pilots rely on instrumentation for landing.

On Sunday, the FAA issued a directive that provides instructions on how certain models of Boeing and Airbus aircraft equipped with a certain type of altimeter can land safely in areas where 5G is enabled – but it does not. represents only about 45% of the US commercial fleet, the agency said. The rest of the fleet does not yet have a way to land safely in 5G-enabled areas, although the FAA is working on additional workarounds.

The Boeing 777 and 787, which are used the most internationally, are notably not part of the group of aircraft types that the FAA included in its previously approved instructions. The agency issued a separate directive for pilots operating the Boeing 787 last week; in some areas where 5G is active, the interference could delay control of the aircraft’s thrust reversers upon landing and therefore could “prevent an aircraft from stopping on the runway”. This has an outsized impact on international airlines, as the 777 and 787 are a preferred model for long-haul flights.

On Wednesday, Japan Airlines said it would resume flights to the United States after saying it had “received confirmation from the FAA that there are no longer any issues with the operation of the Boeing 777.”

Airlines and airports have been warning for months that without additional buffers, the rollout of 5G will lead to chaos in the skies due to the disruption, with increased delays, cancellations and diversions affecting thousands of customers and freight shipments. The chairman of Emirates, one of the foreign airlines that has canceled flights over the issue, on Wednesday called the operational snafu “one of the most delinquent, totally irresponsible… that I have seen in my career. in aviation”.

“We are aware that everyone is trying to roll out 5g,” the Emirates chairman said. Tim Clark told CNN. “We weren’t aware that the antenna power in the United States was double that of what is happening elsewhere. Someone should have told them a long time ago that this would compromise the safe operation of aircraft. “