Emirates will resume all Boeing 777 flights to America by Saturday but warns a ‘long-term resolution’ is needed as Republicans blast Pete Buttigieg and Biden administration for ‘sleepwalking’ through botched 5G roll out
- Republicans slammed the administration for it’s disastrous 5G roll out
- Emirates said it would resume its Boeing 777 flights to Chicago, Dallas Fort Worth, Miami, Newark, Orlando and Seattle on Friday
- AT&T and Verizon launched their new 5G network across America on Wednesday, turning on 4,500 new towers
- But the disastrous roll out led to flight cancelations nationwide – leading to blame on the administration and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg
- Telecoms giants agreed at the last minute on Tuesday to halt the rollout near airports, but not before international airlines already canceled dozens of flights
- Many of the airports have buffers to protect against the frequencies but Boston, Newark, Memphis, Atlanta are among major airports that do not have buffers
- Emirates President Tim Clark blames the Biden administration for not doing more to stop the chaos
Long-haul carrier Emirates today said it would resume its Boeing 777 flights to the U.S. by Saturday after halting its use of the aircraft there over an ongoing dispute over the rollout of new 5G services in America.
But the airline warned that a ‘long-term resolution’ is needed following the launch of 5G.
The warning comes as Republicans blasted Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and the Biden administration for ‘sleepwalking’ through the long awaited, yet disastrous, rollout of 5G technology.
Dubai-based Emirates, which flies only the Boeing 777 and the double-decker Airbus A380, was among international carriers which cancelled early flights or switched to different planes on Wednesday following warnings from the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing over possible interference from the new 5G signals.
But the FAA later told airlines there was no longer a problem with the operation of the Boeing 777, leading them scrambling to resume their flights.
Emirates said it would resume its Boeing 777 service to Chicago, Dallas Fort Worth, Miami, Newark, Orlando and Seattle on Friday.
Flights to Boston, Houston and San Francisco, which saw Emirates deploy its Airbus A380 jumbo jet, will resume Boeing 777 flights on Saturday.
Emirates President Tim Clark, who has slammed the 5G fiasco as the ‘most delinquent, irresponsible’ mess he has seen in his 50-year aviation career and blamed it on Buttigieg, apologized to the airline’s customers for the disruption.
‘Safety will always be our top priority, and we will never gamble on this front,’ Clark said. ‘We welcome the latest development which enables us to resume essential transport links to the U.S. to serve travelers and cargo shippers.’
But Clark warned: ‘However, we are also very aware that this is a temporary reprieve, and a long-term resolution would be required.’
This graphic shows how the wireless spectrum used by 5G networks could interfere with altimeters, which measure a plane’s altitude and is especially important for low-visibility operations. The CEOs of the airlines have asked officials that the 5G be implemented everywhere in the country except within the approximate 2 miles of airport runways at some key airports
An Emirates Airlines Boeing 777 lands at Logan International Airport in Boston, March 10, 2014
AT&T and Verizon launched their 5G network across America on Wednesday morning, switching on 4,500 towers to bring faster wireless to their customers. They had to hold back on ten percent of the towers – 500 – that are near airports because the frequencies the towers emit could interfere with the signal on some planes.
Eighty-eight airports now have buffers to protect against it but some major airports like Boston and Memphis do not. In the most recent FAA announcement on Wednesday afternoon, the government said ’62 percent’ of flights could operate safely – leaving nearly half to reschedule.
On Wednesday, some airline passengers who were unaware of the fiasco showed up at airports ready to board their flights but were told they had been canceled.
Air India, Emirates, BA, Japan Airlines and All Nippon canceled flights on Tuesday, then rushed to bring them back on Wednesday following new FAA advice saying the Boeing 777 was safe to use.
In total, 473 flights to, from and within the US have been canceled so far, according to tracking website FlightAware. It’s unclear if all have been scrapped because of 5G, but the network launch is causing major issues.
Republicans have blamed Buttigieg and the administration for the botched rollout, with GOP members of transportation and technology-related congressional panels releasing a joint statement Wednesday claiming the Biden administration ‘sleepwalked’ the process.
‘The Biden administration has failed to provide any leadership to find a solution to this spectrum issue,’ the statement reads. ‘The U.S. government has hardworking experts who can address any outstanding technical issues, but instead of leading, the White House has sleepwalked through this botched process.’
‘By lurching from one arbitrary deadline to the next with no clear plan or strategy for resolution, this Administration’s negligence continues to delay finding a lasting solution that improves our everyday wireless communication while protecting aviation safety.’
The letter was signed by four Republicans – Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Sam Graves from Missouri; Aviation Subcommittee Ranking Member Garret Graves from Louisiana; Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers from Washington; and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Ranking Member Bob Latta from Ohio.
Texas Republican Representative Beth Van Duyne tweeted of the disaster: ‘The airline industry has been hit hard by authoritarian vaccine mandates and staffing shortages. The last thing it needs is failed leadership on the 5G rollout.’
Buttigieg and the administration also faced some backlash from within their own party for the fiasco.
Democratic Representative Sharice Davids tweeted Wednesday: ‘Glad to see that Verizon and AT&T have agreed to delay 5G deployment around key airports. Our main priority as Congress is safety, and this solution allows the vast majority of wireless deployment to continue while protecting passengers and cargo from delays and disruption.’
A group of Republicans who head up the minority in transportation and technology-related committees and subcommittees slammed the administration for it’s disastrous 5G roll out. They wrote: ‘The U.S. government has hardworking experts who can address any outstanding technical issues, but instead of leading, the White House has sleepwalked through this botched process’
Republican Rep. Beth Van Duyne slammed the administration for ‘failed leadership’ leading to a slew of flight cancelations due to the roll out
Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Brendan Carr also blasted Biden on Wednesday.
‘The Biden Administration’s botched handling of C-Band 5G offerings highlights a failure of competent leadership,’ he wrote on Twitter. ‘The White House walked back a Biden-brokered infrastructure agreement after just two weeks.’
‘This is a bad deal,’ he assured.
‘The Biden Administration could have stood up and sided with science,’ Carr continued. ‘They didn’t. Their silence paved the way for a pressure campaign timed to maximize the chances that Administration officials would cave. They did.’
‘Running a dysfunctional process does not promote air safety or America’s 5G leadership.’
The president of Emirates has slammed the 5G fiasco as the ‘most delinquent, irresponsible’ mess he has seen in his 50-year aviation career and blamed it on Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who he says knew about the impending chaos but failed to warn anyone in time to stop it.
Eighty-eight airports now have buffers to protect against it but some major airports like Denver, Atlanta, Boston, Memphis do not.
In the most recent FAA announcement on Wednesday afternoon, the government said ’62 percent’ of flights could operate safely – leaving nearly half to reschedule.
Sir Tim Clark, the president of Dubai-based Emirates, appeared on CNN Wednesday and said that U.S. airlines knew about the risks of 5G on the Boeing 777 before the rest of the world’s airlines.
He said it forced Emirites and other international airlines to scramble to cancel flights – before bringing them back once FAA gave approval for more types of planes to land in low visibility near 5G signals, including the Boeing 777.
U.S. airline CEOs – who have lucrative contracts with the government – are praising it for reaching a negotiation with the telecoms giants, and reserving all criticism of why it took so long.
Clark said: ‘Let the truth be known, we were not aware of this until yesterday morning to the extent that it was going to compromise the safety of operation of our aircraft and just about every other 777 operator to and from the United States and within the United States. It came to a head, it was known by the US operators probably a little bit more than we knew.
‘We have evidence of letters being written to the Secretary of Transport in the US government alerting that group to what was likely to happen and its consequences.
‘I need to be as candid as I normally am and say this is one of the most delinquent, utterly irresponsible issues, I’ve seen in my aviation career because it involves organs of government, manufacturers, science.’
Tim Clark, the president of Emirates, appeared on Bloomberg Wednesday to blame the shambolic situation on the Biden administration, which greenlit the 5G rollout without addressing the safety fears of the aviation industry first. Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg has not been able to offer a solution to the fiasco and the airlines say they weren’t even made aware of the risks until Monday
Buttigieg – who took two months of paternity leave late last year – has not issued a comment on the fiasco since yesterday, when he said the government was ‘aware’
‘The notion that, for instance, the United States government should sell its franchise for all the frequencies for a large amount of money…somebody should have told them at the time – that the risks and the dangers they placed in certain frequency uses around field, airfields, metropolitan fields that should have been done at the time,’ Sir Tim fumed.
‘We were aware of a 5G issue. Okay. We are aware that everybody is trying to get 5G rolled out after all it’s the super cool future of whatever it may be communication and information flow.
‘We were not aware that the power of the antennas in the United States have been doubled compared to what’s going on elsewhere.
‘We were not aware that the antenna themselves have been put into a vertical position rather than a slight slanting position, which when taken together compromise not only the radio altimeter systems, but the flight control systems on the fly-by-wire aircraft.
‘So on that basis we took that decision late last night to suspend all our services until we had clarity.’
Delta Chief of Operations John Laughter, in a statement on Wednesday, reserved criticism of the US government.
‘We’re continuing to work with the FAA, the FCC and the telecom industry to find a practical solution that will allow for the rollout of 5G technology while preserving safety and avoiding flight disruptions.’
United said: ‘We’re pleased the Biden Administration reached a compromise with AT&T and Verizon to avoid mass cancellations across the aviation industry. We look forward to a higher level of coordination between the regulators, telecom companies and the aviation industry to ensure that customers are not faced with disruptions going forward.’
British Airways, Emirates, All Nippon and Japan Airlines, had canceled dozens of their scheduled flights to and from the US or put people on different flights using different aircraft.
Air India canceled flights on Tuesday and are yet to put people on other services.
Jageish Rathor, who was due to fly to Delhi from Newark this morning, arrived at the airport to learn the flight had been canceled.
‘They say the flight is canceled until further notice.
‘I’ traveling to Deli, Air India. They say the flight is canceled until further notice. They’re saying some kind of 5G network…the agent told me the flight canceled.
‘They want to charge me $400 extra to get on a flight tomorrow.
‘I am from New Jersey, I spent $70 on an Uber to come here, I didn’t get an email or message. I just found out when I got here
‘I’m supposed to go to my niece and nephew’s wedding two days after today, and I can’t get there.’
He was among dozens of people in the same position.
Now, as a result of the halt, the airlines – which are based in different time zones and heard the news at varying times throughout the night – are scrambling to resume Boeing 777 flights.
The result is a thickening headache at airports where the chaos is playing out in cancelations, staff shortages and a lack of the right planes in the right place at the right time.
United Airlines has canceled 20 flights in and out of Newark already on Wednesday. British Airways canceled all its 777 flights to New York, Boston and L.A.X from London, putting passengers on different aircraft. The airline is now working to resume those flights.
‘Safety is always our priority. We are monitoring the situation in the US closely and will continue to review our schedule in the next few hours.
‘We’re disappointed that some of our customers are facing potential disruption and will update them as soon as possible on any changes to their travel plans,’ a spokesman told DailyMail.com.
Japan Airlines announced that it is working to resume flights to the US, a day after issuing a blanket cancelation on all of its services.
‘On January 18, 2022, Boeing has notified us that 5G signals for U.S. mobile phones, which will begin operating in the U.S. on January 19, may interfere with the radio wave altimeter installed on the Boeing 777.
‘Based on that information, we were forced to cancel some flights to the U.S. mainland on January 19.
WHICH AIRPORTS DON’T HAVE BUFFERS?
The government will not provide a full list of the major airports that normally welcome 777s but won’t be able to without a 5G buffer.
They have issued a list of the airports that do have buffers, from which these airports are missing;
‘Today on January 19, we have received confirmation from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) that there is no longer a problem with the operation of the Boeing 777 and we will resume service to the U.S. mainland with Boeing 777 from January 20.
‘We will continue to monitor the situation closely and if there is any impact on our flight operations, we will promptly announce it on our website,’ the airline said in an announcement on its website.
Emirates, which had canceled all flights to nine US airports indefinitely, has now shortened that list.
It will still not operate flights to Chicago, Dallas Fort Worth, Miami, Newark, Orlando, and Seattle, but some flights to San Francisco and Boston are back on the schedule.
Verizon will temporarily not turn on about 500 towers near airports, sources told Reuters, or less than 10 percent of their planned deployment, while the carriers and the administration work on a permanent solution, sources briefed on the matter said.
But details of the agreement, including the length of the pause for the rollout, and a solution were not disclosed.
Lacking an immediate solution, passengers and airlines are bracing for further delays and cancellations as the travel chaos shows no sign of stopping.
Scores of people have now been left stranded at airports, with many complaining on social media about their flights being cancelled due to the 5G rollout.
One passenger, identified as Siddhartha on Twitter, complained that he and other passengers were ‘not happy’ that their Air India flight from Delhi to San Francisco had been cancelled.
Travelers were seen crowded together at Indira Gandhi International Airport as they waited for more news.
Another passenger, identified as Kausi on Twitter, was left frustrated after they were told their Emirates flight to Chicago had been cancelled as soon as she landed in Dubai.
Kausi complained that she and other passengers were not left ‘stuck’ in airports.
Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines warned passengers of cancellations and long delays as a result of the 5G rollout.
Delta said they are ‘planning for the possibility of weather-related cancellations caused by the deployment of new 5G service in the vicinity of dozens of U.S. airports starting as early as Wednesday.’
People at the Air India customer service desk after a Delhi flight was cancelled at JFK Airport, Queens, New York, on Wednesday
Stranded: Passengers who were due to fly to Delhi on an Air India flight from Newark arrived at the airport on Wednesday morning to learn it had been canceled
An empty check-in at the British Airways counter at JFK. The airline had to scrap its 777 flights to the US on Wednesday morning and put those passengers on other flights. A spokesman told DailyMail.com the airline was ‘disappointed’ by the disruption caused to the service
Cancellations are seen on boards at JFK Airport, Queens, New York. January 19 2022. All Nippon Airways canceled all its US flights on Tuesday to heed the FAA warning, then announced on Wednesday that some were being brought back. The British Airways flight to Heathrow tonight was canceled
TIMELINE OF 5G TRAVEL CHAOS
MONDAY: Airline CEOs beg Biden administration to intervene in AT&T and Verizon’s rollout, citing safety fears that 5G tech will interfere with radio altimeter technology on Boeing 777s
TUESDAY MORNING: Boeing issues warning to international airlines that 5G signal will interfere with their planes
Airlines like Emirates, Japan Airlines and All Nippon make arrangements to cancel their 777 flights bound for America, or put people on different aircraft
TUESDAY AFTERNOON: AT&T and Verizon agree to halt the rollout of some of their towers near some airports.
They won’t say which airports or how long they have agreed to pause it for.
WEDNESDAY: 5G launches across America – excluding near some airports.
Airlines overseas scramble to get the 777 jets they’d grounded back up and running.
The chaos results in delays and disruption in other airports and airlines
United Airlines told customers on a flight from Denver to Houston that a three-hour delay was a result of the new 5G systems, according to a notice on its website. It also suggested customers with any concerns reach out to the Federal Communications Commission.
A major issue for airlines has been their use of the Boeing 777 model, a long-range, wide-body aircraft, which is said to be particularly affected by the 5G signals. It has prompted cancellations and a mad dash to change the aircrafts.
Japanese major airline All Nippon Airways said it would be cancelling some of its flights and changing the Boeing 777 aircraft used on some U.S. flights.
But on Wednesday morning, the airline announced the flights would be resumed.
‘As the launch of the 5G service in the U.S. has now been partially postponed, operation of ANA flights from Jan. 20 will follow the normal schedule based on FAA notification that there is no safety issue with the operation of Boeing 777 aircraft to the U.S. airports that we serve.
‘We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused to our customers,’ they said.
Meanwhile, British Airways opted to switch aircraft on its daily flight to Los Angeles to an Airbus A380 from the usual Boeing 777 service, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
And Korean Air Lines, South Korea’s biggest airline, switched four passenger planes from Boeing 777s to 787s and two cargo planes from 747-8s to 747-400s overnight, and will continue to avoid operating 777s and 747-8s at affected U.S. airports, spokeswoman Jill Chung said.
Germany’s Lufthansa also swapped out one kind of 747 for another on some U.S.-bound flights
Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific said it is deploying different types of airplanes where necessary to the affected airports and that its flights to the United States have not been affected so far. Taiwan’s EVA Air also said it had taken ‘contingency measures to ensure flight safety,’ without elaborating.
The airlines said they were acting in response to a notice from Boeing that 5G signals may interfere with the radio altimeter on the 777, leading to restrictions.
Industry sources said Boeing had issued technical advisories noting potential interference, but that flight restrictions were in the hands of the FAA, which has for now limited operations at key airports unless airlines qualify for special approvals.
But Air France said it planned to continue flying its Boeing 777s into American airports. It did not explain why it didn’t change its aircraft as many other carriers have.
All Nippon Airways has resumed flights to the US after canceling them due to the 5G security fears
Japan Airlines is resuming flights on 777s to the US as a result of the telecoms giants halting the launch of 5G near some airports at the last minute
HOW DOES 5G AFFECT PLANES?
AT&T and Verizon have spent tens of billions of dollars to license the 3.7 to 3.98 GHz frequency range for the new high-speed C-Band 5G service.
The C-band is a portion of the electromagnetic spectrum in the microwave range of frequencies ranging from 4.0 to 8.0 gigahertz (GHz), although the US Federal Communications Commission has designated 3.7-4.2 GHz as C band too.
The problem is that wireless spectrum used by 5G networks could interfere with radio altimeters, which measure a plane’s altitude – especially important for low-visibility operations.
Airlines fear that C-band 5G signals will disrupt planes’ navigation systems, particularly those used in bad weather.
This interference with radio altimeters, which measure a plane’s altitude, could lead to the loss of radar altitude information or, worse, incorrect radar altitude information unknowingly being generated, they say.
It is not seen as a problem in Britain or Europe, according to the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority, Ofcom and EU Aviation Safety Authority.
All three insist there is no evidence 5G interferes with aircraft systems.
However, in Europe 5G networks work in the 3.4-3.8GHz spectrum so regulators on this side of the Atlantic don’t appear as concerned about it being close to the 4.2-4.4GHz band for radio altimeters.
It seems the basis for US airlines’ fears is that mobile networks’ traffic from the top edge of 3.98GHz might bleed into the neighbouring altimeter band.
‘The issue is that the C-band frequency used for 5G in the US is a little bit close to the frequencies used by altimeters,’ Roslyn Layton, vice president at Strand Consult, told Tech Monitor.
The radio altimeter is a critical aviation safety technology that indicates the airplane’s height and supports safe landing.
It operates in the 4.2-4.4 GHz spectrum band; cell phones are currently not permitted to operate in that band or any nearby band to prevent interference.
However, if telecommunication authorities reallocate the 3.7-4.2 GHz band for 5G, the risk of interference could increase.
The airlines want 5G signals to be excluded from ‘the approximate two miles of airport runways at affected airports as defined by the FAA on 19 January 2022’.
This would ensure that no airplanes are affected by the 5G interference, they say.
There have been fatal accidents associated with incorrect radar altitude, most recently Turkish Airlines Flight 1951 in Amsterdam in 2009.
The FAA has warned that potential interference could affect sensitive airplane instruments such as altimeters and make an impact on low-visibility operations.
So this threat could compromise key safety systems and result in suspended passenger and cargo flights.
For passengers, flights may be cancelled or have to be diverted to other airports if 5G towers are deployed too close to airport runways.
But most aviation regulators are content the risks posed by 5G to planes are low, according to Layton.
‘This whole thing is unhelpful for the world’s airport regulators,’ she said. ‘They have blessed this technology years ago, so what does it look like when the FAA all of sudden says ‘there’s a problem’? It’s really inconvenient and a bit embarrassing.’
AT&T and Verizon have agreed to buffer zones around 50 airports to reduce interference risks.
In the UK, Ofcom said the country had had 5G deployments and other services in the bands near to radio altimeters for years and there have been no known cases of interference.
Similarly, other countries are already using these frequencies for 5G and other wireless services with no reported incidents of interference to aviation equipment.
The issue in the US is that it’s about to deploy these services, so there’s concerns of the effects deployment may have.
A spokesman for Boeing had no immediate comment.
Similar 5G mobile networks have been deployed in dozens of other countries – sometimes with concessions like reducing the power of the networks near airports, as France has done. But in the U.S., the issue has pitted the FAA and the airlines against the Federal Communications Commission and the telecoms companies.
The 5G service uses a segment of the radio spectrum that is close to that used by radio altimeters, which are devices that measure the height of aircraft above the ground and help pilots land in low visibility. The FCC, which set a buffer between the 5G band and the spectrum that planes use, determined that it could be used safely in the vicinity of air traffic.
AT&T and Verizon have said their equipment will not interfere with aircraft electronics.
But FAA officials saw a potential problem, and the telecom companies agreed to a pause while it is addressed.
AT&T and Verizon on Tuesday agreed to temporarily defer turning on some wireless towers near key airports in a bid to avert further disruption to U.S. flights.
President Joe Biden hailed the agreement, saying it ‘will avoid potentially devastating disruptions to passenger travel, cargo operations, and our economic recovery, while allowing more than 90 percent of wireless tower deployment to occur as scheduled.’
Verizon will temporarily not turn on about 500 towers near airports, sources told Reuters, or less than 10 percent of their planned deployment, while the carriers and the administration work on a permanent solution, sources briefed on the matter said. Details of the agreement, including the length of the pause, were not disclosed.
Both Verizon and AT&T will launch 5G on Wednesday elsewhere in the country bringing faster speeds to tens of millions of people.
The row erupted on Monday when US airline CEOs begged the Biden administration to stop AT&T and Verizon from rolling out their C-band 5G technology.
The telecoms giants had been planning to launch the technology across the US on Wednesday, turning on 5,000 towers across the country that will bring Americans’ faster internet speeds, including 500 which the airline industry say pose a threat to flight safety.
Both AT&T and Verizon have reluctantly agreed to halt turning on those towers of concern until a resolution can be found, in order to avoid a mass cancelation of flights across America and travel chaos that would up end the already distressed supply chain and scupper consumer travel.
It seemed to appease domestic airlines but did not calm international fear.
The FAA has said it will allow planes with accurate, reliable altimeters to operate around high-power 5G. But planes with older altimeters will not be allowed to make landings under low-visibility conditions.
Part of the problem, according to the FAA, are the signal strength of the 5G towers and the orientation of their antennae.
‘Base stations in rural areas of the United States are permitted to emit at higher levels in comparison to other countries which may affect radio altimeter equipment accuracy and reliability,’ the FAA said in December.
The FCC’s chairwoman said in a statement that the 5G ‘deployment can safely co-exist with aviation technologies in the United States, just as it does in other countries around the world.’
Emirates has now canceled flights to Boston, Chicago, Dallas Fort Worth, Houston, Miami, Newark, Orlando, San Francisco and Seattle.
In its announcement, Emirates cited the cancellation as necessary due to ‘operational concerns associated with the planned deployment of 5G mobile network services in the U.S. at certain airports.’
‘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.
The United Arab Emirates successfully rolled out 5G coverage all around its airports without incident, like dozens of other countries. But in the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration worries that the C-Band strand of 5G could interfere with aviation equipment.
Of particular concern in the 5G rollout appears to be the Boeing 777, a major workhorse for Emirates, which only flies that model and the Airbus A380 jumbo jet. Its Mideast competitor, Qatar Airways, anticipates ‘minor delays’ on return flights from the U.S. but says otherwise its dozen U.S. routes are operating as scheduled.
All Nippon and Japan Airlines have canceled all of their Boeing 777 flights to the US, and they say they did so at the request of Boeing.
‘Boeing has announced flight restrictions on all airlines operating the Boeing 777 aircraft, and we have cancelled or changed the aircraft for some flights to/from the U.S. based on the announcement by Boeing,’ a statement from All Nippon Airways said.
All Nippon cancelled 20 flights to the U.S. over the issue to cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.
Japan Airlines similarly said that it had been informed that 5G signals ‘may interfere with the radio altimeter installed on the Boeing 777.’
‘We will refrain from using this model on the continental United States line until we can confirm its safety and we regret to inform you that we will cancel the flight for which the aircraft cannot be changed to the Boeing 787,’ the airline said. Eight of its flights were cancelled on Wednesday – three passenger trips and five for cargo.
Boeing has not confirmed that it has given the order to airlines to ground their US 777s.
It’s unclear exactly how many flights have been canceled so far, or how many more will be.
The 777 last year was the second-most used widebody plane on flights to and from U.S. airports with around 210,000 flights, behind only the 767, according to data from FlightRadar24.
Industry sources said Boeing had issued technical advisories noting potential interference, but that flight restrictions were in the hands of the FAA, which has for now limited operations at key airports unless airlines qualify for special approvals.
Radio altimeters give precise readings of the height above the ground on approach and help with automated landings, as well as verifying the jet has landed before allowing reverse thrust.
Air India, which serves four U.S. destinations with Boeing 777s, has canceled flights to and from Delhi to and from New York, San Francisco and Chicago, and between Mumbai and Newark ‘due to deployment of the 5G communications’ equipment. It said it would try to use other aircraft on U.S. routes as well.
Choi Jong-yun, a spokeswoman of Asiana Airlines, a South Korean carrier, said the company hasn’t been affected so far because it uses Airbus planes for passenger flights to the U.S. and doesn’t use the affected Boeing planes to transport cargo.
However, Choi said airlines have also been instructed by the FAA to avoid automatic landings at affected U.S. airports during bad weather conditions, regardless of plane type. Asiana will redirect its planes to nearby airports during those conditions, she said.
Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg has been unable to offer a solution to the fiasco.
Aviation officials fear that 5G signals near airports could interfere with certain airplane instruments, including the radio altimeter used to gauge altitude
‘We recognize the economic importance of expanding 5G, and we appreciate the wireless companies working with us to protect the flying public and the country’s supply chain,’ said Buttigieg.
‘The complex U.S. airspace leads the world in safety because of our high standards for aviation, and we will maintain this commitment as wireless companies deploy 5G,’ he said in a statement.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has warned that 5G wireless interference could affect sensitive airplane instruments such as radio altimeters, which are crucial aids to pilots landing in low-visibility operations.
Federal Communications Commission Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement the FAA ‘has a process in place to assess altimeter performance in the 5G environment and resolve any remaining concerns. It is essential that the FAA now complete this process with both care and speed.’
The telecoms giants say they do not understand why the US has not been able to find a workaround when other countries have been able to launch.
The 5G signals that Verizon and AT&T want to emit are stronger than those in Europe.
Despite the delay, some international airlines are already canceling flights to the US out of an abundance of caution.
The list of 50 airports with 5G buffers that should be protected
LAURENCE G HANSCOM FLD
BOEING FLD/KING COUNTY INTL
DALLAS LOVE FLD
DALLAS-FORT WORTH INTL
DETROIT METRO WAYNE COUNTY
ELLINGTON EWR NEWARK LIBERTY INTL
FRESNO YOSEMITE INTL
FORT LAUDERDALE/HOLLYWOOD INTL
WILLIAM P HOBBY
GEORGE BUSH INTCNTL/HOUSTON
LONG ISLAND MAC ARTHUR
JOHN F KENNEDY INTL
HARRY REID INTL
LOS ANGELES INTL
LONG BEACH (DAUGHERTY FLD)
KANSAS CITY INTL
CHICAGO MIDWAY INTL
MINNEAPOLIS-ST PAUL INTL/WOLD-CHAMBERLAIN
CHICAGO O’HARE INTL
SNOHOMISH COUNTY (PAINE FLD)
PALM BEACH INTL
PHOENIX SKY HARBOR INTL
ST PETE-CLEARWATER INTL
FREDERICK DOUGLASS/GREATER ROCHESTER INTL
SAN FRANCISCO INTL
NORMAN Y MINETA SAN JOSE INTL
JOHN WAYNE/ORANGE COUNTY
ST LOUIS LAMBERT INTL
SYRACUSE HANCOCK INTL
It’s unclear how long the FAA and airlines now have to resolve their safety concerns.
AT&T is now demanding to know why the FAA – a government body – waited so long before sounding such alarm.
‘We are frustrated by the FAA’s inability to do what nearly 40 countries have done, which is to safely deploy 5G technology without disrupting aviation services, and we urge it do so in a timely manner.’
Despite the urgency conveyed by the CEOs of American Airlines, JetBlue, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and Southwest Airlines, as well as officials from FedEx Express and UPS Airlines, Transport Secretary Buttigieg has yet to make a public statement about the issue ahead of Wednesday’s rollout.
Of 88 airports that could be affected around the country, there are currently 50 with 5G buffers around them to reduce the interference of 5G.
The FAA has not named the remaining 38 affected airports.
Despite the buffer, the airports could still face 5G interference.
If any of the 88 airports experience bad weather, where altimeters are a necessity, the FAA and U.S. airlines said flights would be cancelled, diverted or delayed.
Allied Pilots Association spokesperson Dennis Tajer echoed the airlines’ concerns and urged the cellular companies to push back the 5G rollout.
‘This is reckless, it’s dangerous, and it’s got to stop,’ Tajer told the Today Show on Tuesday.
‘Take a pause. This is about a cellphone signal, and we’re focused on protecting lives.’
The warning comes after airline International airports and airlines have also begun warning customers to check if their trips to the U.S. will be cancelled or delayed due to the 5G launch.
Although the FAA approved 48 of the 88 airports most directly affected by 5G to use two radio altimeters to avoid confusion on Sunday, it ultimately issued an order to all pilots to avoid using the instruments because they could still face issues.
The buffer zones call for the 5G towers to be located at least two miles away from airports and to limit the towers’ heights.
‘Even with the approvals granted by the FAA…, U.S. airlines will not be able to operate the vast majority of passenger and cargo flights due to the FAA’s 5G-related flight restrictions unless action is taken prior to the planned January 19 rollout,’ Airlines for America, which represents American Airlines, Delta Airlines and FedEx, told Reuters.
As of Tuesday morning, the stocks for American Airlines, United Airlines, JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines remained stable with a small upward trend.
AT&T and Verizon, which won nearly all of the C-Band spectrum in an $80 billion auction last year to launched their 5G services, had agreed to buffer zones around 50 airports to reduce interference risks and take other steps to cut potential interference for six months.
‘Even with these new approvals, flights at some airports may still be affected,’ the FAA warned in a statement.
‘The FAA also continues to work with manufacturers to understand how radar altimeter data is used in other flight control systems. Passengers should check with their airlines if weather is forecast at a destination where 5G interference is possible.’
Despite the worries in America, 5G’s possible effects on planes has not been a major concern in Europe.
Last month, Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority issued a statement that 5G emission’s won’t harm British airlines.
‘Conversations with [national aviation authorities] has established that there have been no confirmed instances where 5G interference has resulted in aircraft system malfunction or unexpected behavior,’ the agency said, adding that it will continue to monitor the issue.
AT&T and Verizon told DailyMail.com on Tuesday that they were not commenting on the issue at this time.
On Monday, the CEOs of American Airlines, JetBlue, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and Southwest Airlines, as well as officials from FedEx Express and UPS Airlines, wrote a letter to government officials urging them to pause the launch of 5G.
The CEOs warned that a significant number of widebody aircrafts will become unusable and ‘could potentially strand tens of thousands of Americans overseas.’
‘Unless our major hubs are cleared to fly, the vast majority of the traveling and shipping public will essentially be grounded,’ the CEOs wrote.
‘The harm that will result from deployment on January 19 is substantially worse than we anticipated for two key reasons,’ they explained.
The CEOs also argued that because radio altimeters provide critical information to other safety and navigation systems in modern airplanes, multiple modern safety systems ‘will be deemed unusable.’
‘Airplane manufacturers have informed us that there are huge swaths of the operating fleet that may need to be indefinitely grounded.’
‘The ripple effects across both passenger and cargo operations, our workforce and the broader economy are simply incalculable,’ the CEOs wrote as they asked officials ‘that 5G be implemented everywhere in the country except within the approximate 2 miles of airport runways’ at some key airports.
‘Immediate intervention is needed to avoid significant operational disruption to air passengers, shippers, supply chain and delivery of needed medical supplies.’
The carriers added they urge action to ensure ‘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 letter, which was obtained by DailyMail.com, went to White House National Economic Council director Brian Deese, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.
Airlines late on Monday were considering whether to begin canceling some international flights that are scheduled to arrive in the United States on Wednesday.
‘With the proposed restrictions at selected airports, the transportation industry is preparing for some service disruption. We are optimistic that we can work across industries and with government to finalize solutions that safely mitigate as many schedule impacts as possible,’ plane maker Boeing said.
United Airlines also separately warned on Monday that the issue could affect more than 15,000 of its flights, 1.25 million passengers and snarl tons of cargo annually.
United said it faces ‘significant restrictions on 787s, 777s, 737s and regional aircraft in major cities like Houston, Newark, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago.’
JetBlue Airways Chief Executive Officer Robin Hayes told employees on Monday that the planned rollout of new 5G service by AT&T and Verizon on Wednesday is set to ‘further stress our already fragile air system.’
Hayes said in a memo that the airline is preparing for the ‘worst’ when the new service and new flight restrictions take effect.
‘While we will do our best to avoid customer disruption, we won’t be able to avoid the impact of this, including significant flight delays, cancellations, and diversions in low visibility flying,’ Hayes wrote.
One area of concern is whether some or all Boeing 777s will be unable to land at some key U.S. airports after 5G service starts, as well as some Boeing cargo planes, airline officials told Reuters.
The airlines urged action to ensure ‘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 FAA said on Sunday it had cleared an estimated 45% of the U.S. commercial airplane fleet to perform low-visibility landings at many airports where 5G C-band will be deployed and they expect to issue more approvals before Wednesday.
The airlines noted on Monday that the list did not include many large airports.
The CEOs of major airlines and Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun held a lengthy call with Buttigieg and Dickson on Sunday to warn of the looming crisis, officials told Reuters.
The CEOs of some of the nation’s largest airlines wrote to federal officials on Monday warning about the potential negative effects of 5G
Altimeter’s are a key tool for pilots landing in low-visibility conditions
THE EVOLUTION OF MOBILE BROADBAND UP TO 5G
The evolution of the G system started in 1980 with the invention of the mobile phone which allowed for analogue data to be transmitted via phone calls.
Digital came into play in 1991 with 2G and SMS and MMS capabilities were launched.
Since then, the capabilities and carrying capacity for the mobile network has increased massively.
More data can be transferred from one point to another via the mobile network quicker than ever.
5G is expected to be 100 times faster than the currently used 4G.
Whilst the jump from 3G to 4G was most beneficial for mobile browsing and working, the step to 5G will be so fast they become almost real-time.
That means mobile operations will be just as fast as office-based internet connections.
Potential uses for 5G include:
- Simultaneous translation of several languages in a party conference call
- Self-driving cars can stream movies, music and navigation information from the cloud
- A full length 8GB film can be downloaded in six seconds.
5G is expected to be so quick and efficient it is possible it could start the end of wired connections.
By the end of 2020, industry estimates claim 50 billion devices will be connected to 5G.
But the issue doesn’t just affect airplanes – they could also have a negative effect on the nation’s helicopters, including lifesaving medevac choppers.
Under U.S. law, all commercial helicopters must have a working altimeter in order to fly. Without them, officials warn, landing in remote areas or on hospital landing pads will be near impossible.
Helicopter Association International petitioned the FAA in October asking for medevacs to be exempt from the law when 5G rolls out, and the FAA granted it last week for areas where 5G C-Band interference could affect the radio altimeter.
Airlines for America, the group that organized the letter, declined to comment.
The CEO’s also complained that: ‘Given the short time frame and the exigency of this completely avoidable economic calamity, we respectfully request you support and take whatever action necessary to ensure that 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 FAA said it ‘will continue to ensure that the traveling public is safe as wireless companies deploy 5G.
‘The FAA continues to work with the aviation industry and wireless companies to try to limit 5G-related flight delays and cancellations.’
The other government agencies did not comment.
The U.K. CAA, the mobile phone industry and Ofcom released statements earlier this month in response to U.K. concerns. They said they did not share the worries of that in the U.S. at this stage.
A spokesperson for the CAA, the UK equivalent to the FAA, said: ‘We are aware of reports that suggest that the frequency band being used for 5G in a number of countries could potentially pose a risk of interference with aircraft radio altimeters.
‘There have been no reported incidents of aircraft systems being affected by 5G transmissions in U.K. airspace, but we are nonetheless working with Ofcom and the Ministry of Defense to make sure that the deployment of 5G in the U.K. does not cause any technical problems for aircraft.’
A spokesperson for Ofcom said: ‘We’re aware that the aviation sector is looking at this; we’ve done our own technical analysis and are yet to see any evidence that would give us cause for concern.’
Gareth Elliott, head of policy and communications at Mobile U.K., which represents mobile networks, said: ‘The U.K.’s mobile network operators follow all health and safety guidelines and engage with a variety of industries on interference.
‘Mobile operators are actively coordinating with the aviation authorities to ensure no interference in the U.K.’
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