Flights grounded over 5G concerns


Issues with the rollout of new 5G telecom services impacting air travel are coming to a head – and it’s not pretty.

Reuters reports a significant number of international flights were delayed today due to a lack of timely confirmation about where 5G would be available and deployed, as AT&T and Verizon turn on service for many millions of customers.

Although the carriers agreed to limit 5G around many American airports, other flight locations were not cleared in time, and so airline carriers had to postpone flights.

Last month, we reported on generalized concerns from the FAA that 5G services could interfere with radio altimeters on airplanes.

Today all of that theoretical trouble becomes manifest as regulators and airlines seek to protect passengers.

As of Monday, this was the reported situation:

“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,” wrote David Shepardson for Reuters. “The airlines noted on Monday that the list did not include many large airports.”

It was these uncleared airports, apparently, that led to the confusion and grounded flights.

The damage to airline travel, experts say, was mitigated by the fact that it’s now the off-season and that covid has already cut down on the volume of air travel worldwide.

However, many are criticizing the lateness of the hour at which the carriers confirmed service restrictions, and looking at the evident effect that has had on flights today.

“The last-minute postponement happened too late to stop the crews being sent out for today’s … flight. It just made it a nightmare,” said a European pilot as quoted in today’s Reuters coverage.

Meanwhile there’s this FAA communique from Monday:

“(FAA) 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.”

Stay tuned.