5G interference issues could linger for years, US airline group warns

It will likely take “years” to permanently resolve aircraft interference issues caused by the rollout of 5G wireless in the C-band, a group representing major U.S. passenger and cargo carriers told lawmakers Thursday. Americans.

Nick Calio, who leads Airlines for America, will tell a House transportation and infrastructure subcommittee in written testimony that the 5G issues facing the aviation industry should have been avoided.

“The process that led to this operational nightmare should be presented as a cautionary tale of government communication and coordination gone wrong,” says his testimony, reviewed by Reuters and not yet made public.

“It will likely take years, not days or weeks, to completely and permanently mitigate the interference issues caused by the deployment of 5G in the C-band,” adds Calio, whose group represents American Airlines, United Airlines, FedEx and other major carriers. .

Verizon and AT&T agreed in January to delay the deployment of some 5G wireless towers near airports after the aviation industry and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) warned that 5G interference could impact sensitive electronics. aircraft such as radio altimeters.

The FAA said last week it had cleared 20 altimeter models and approved 90% of the U.S. commercial fleet to land in low-visibility approaches in areas with C-band 5G. But 5G has impacted some flights in bad weather, including some regional jets.

Aerospace Industries Association President Eric Fanning will tell lawmakers that progress has been made on the issue, but it is not yet resolved.

“With many outstanding issues still on the table, there are disruptions in our future, even with more compromise and collaboration,” his testimony reads.

The hearing will also include testimony from FAA Administrator Steve Dickson, CTIA Group CEO Meredith Attwell Baker, and others.

A spokesperson for the committee said the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was asked to testify but was unable to appear. The FCC did not immediately comment.

Baker will tell lawmakers that the wireless industry “remains confident that 5G poses no risk to air traffic safety.”

Air Line Pilots Association President Joe DePete said the FCC’s support for the telecommunications industry “has not only put the public at risk, but has also forced pilots to perform many workarounds to ensure the safety of the flight”.

Cathryn Stephens, an airport official appearing on behalf of the American Association of Airport Executives, will tell lawmakers that “pockets of pain persist and it’s clear the reprieve may be temporary and dependent on the will of telecoms to operate. limited in some areas.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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