CHICAGO, Illinois: According to U.S. airline officials, the introduction of a new 5G service could cause U.S. air traffic to "grind to a halt," causing the grounding of many aircraft and stranding "tens of thousands of Americans overseas."
On January 17, Reuters reported that a letter warning of a potential "catastrophic" crisis in aviation was sent to White House National Economic Council director Brian Deese, transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) administrator Steve Dickson and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.
The letter, signed by the chief executives of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Jet Blue, as well as freight and parcel carriers UPS and FedEx, said, "Unless our major hubs are cleared to fly, the vast majority of the traveling and shipping public will essentially be grounded."
New C-Band 5G technology could interfere with critical airplane instruments, such as radio altimeters, the letter stated, adding, "This means that on a day like yesterday, more than 1,100 flights and 100,000 passengers would be subjected to cancellations, diversions or delays."
Airlines for America, an aviation lobbying group, was responsible for writing the letter.
In an earlier letter dated 4th January, the group thanked Buttigieg, Dickson and Deese for "reaching the agreement with AT&T and Verizon to delay their planned 5G C-band deployment around certain airports for two weeks and to commit to the proposed mitigations."
In line with the agreement dated 3rd January, AT&T and Verizon will create buffer zones around 50 airports in the U.S. to minimize interference for six months.
But the agreement to delay wider implementation of the technology to 19th January is about to expire.
Airlines stressed that "5G be implemented everywhere in the country except within an approximate 2 miles of airport runways" at some key airports.
They also called for ensuring "5G is deployed, except when towers are too close to airport runways, until the FAA can determine how that can be safely accomplished without catastrophic disruption."
The warning follows previous incidents involving Medevac helicopters and aircraft used by hospitals and rescue missions being affected by 5G technology.
According to a Bloomberg report, 5G interference of radio altimeters on emergency helicopters could ground operations, adding that while 5G will not necessarily shut down the altimeter, it could cause it to give false readings.