Saturday, May 21, 2022

Airlines cancel some flights after reducing 5G rollout in the US

DALLAS ( Associated Press) – Some flights to and from the US were canceled Wednesday even after AT&T and Verizon withdrew a rollout of high-speed wireless service that could interfere with aircraft technology that measures altitude .

Carriers that have largely relied on Boeing 777 canceled flights or switched to different aircraft following warnings from the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing.

But airlines flying wholly or mostly Airbus jets, including Air France and Ireland’s Aer Lingus, seemed unimpressed by the new 5G service.

As of Wednesday afternoon, airlines had canceled more than 250 flights, according to FlightAware. However, this was a small percentage of total US flights, and was much less than the cancellations during the Christmas and New Year travel seasons, which rose to more than 3,000 a day, when airlines experienced severe winter storms and large flights. A number of workers were being harassed due to illness. of COVID-19.

Airlines for America, a trade group, said cancellations were limited because telecommunications providers had agreed to temporarily reduce Rollout of 5G near airports, while industry and government work out a long-term solution.

US officials had said that even with the concession, there could be some cancellations and delays due to 5G-affected equipment on some planes.

At Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, Sudip Bhabad said his father-in-law’s flight to India had been cancelled.

“They have to solve this problem,” Bhabad said. “It would have been a lot better if they had sorted it out earlier and we knew it in advance, instead of finding out when we’re here at the airport.”

Similar mobile networks have been deployed in more than three dozen countries, but there are significant differences in how US networks are designed that raise concerns of potential problems for airlines.

Verizon and AT&T networks use a segment of the radio spectrum Which is close to that used by radio altimeters, instruments that measure aircraft altitude above the ground to help pilots land in low visibility. Telecom and the US Federal Communications Commission, which set a buffer between the frequencies used by 5G and altimeters, said the wireless service posed no risk to aviation.

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But FAA officials saw a potential problem, and telecommunications companies agreed on Tuesday to pause addressing it.

The FAA has said it will allow aircraft with accurate, reliable altimeters to operate around high-power 5G. But aircraft with other altimeters will not be allowed to land in low visibility conditions.

According to the FAA, the problems that could cause 5G rollout to become an issue in the US, and not in other countries, are that US towers use more powerful signal strength than elsewhere the network operates on a single frequency. Which is closer to using an altimeters. , and point the tower antennas at a high angle.

In France, telecommunications providers reduce the power of their high-speed wireless networks near airports.

On Wednesday, Emirates announced it would halt flights to several US cities due to concerns about 5G, but would continue flights to Los Angeles, New York and Washington.

“We are working closely with aircraft manufacturers and relevant authorities to ease operational concerns, and we look forward to resuming our US services as soon as possible,” the state-owned airline said.

Emirates president Tim Clark didn’t hit a punch when discussing the issue. He told CNN it was “one of the most criminal, completely irresponsible” situations he had ever seen because it involved the failure of government, science and industry.

Japan’s All Nippon Airways said the FAA has “indicated that radio waves from 5G wireless service may interfere with aircraft altitude.” It said Boeing announced a ban on airlines flying its 777s and said it canceled 20 flights to cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles and New York over the issue.

Japan Airlines said it would stop using the 777 in the continental US for now. Eight of its flights were affected on Wednesday.

But Air France said it planned to continue flying its 777s to US airports. It did not explain why it did not replace its aircraft as many other carriers have.

In a statement, the Chicago-based Boeing Company said it would work with airlines, the FAA and others to find a solution that would allow all aircraft to fly safely as 5G is rolled out. It did not respond to questions about its 777s.

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Air India announced on Twitter that it will be canceling flights to Chicago, Newark, New York and San Francisco due to the 5G issue. But it also said it would try to use other planes on US routes – a course many other airlines took.

Korean Air, Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific and Austrian Airlines said they had replaced individual aircraft for flights that were scheduled to use the 777. Korean Air spokeswoman Jill Chung said the airline was also refraining from operating some types of 747s. Germany’s Lufthansa also swapped one-of-a-kind 747s on some flights to the US.

British Airways canceled several planned US-bound Boeing 777 flights and switched aircraft on others.

Choi Jong-eun, a spokeswoman for Asiana Airlines, said the company was still not affected because it uses Airbus planes for passenger flights to the US.

However, Choi said airlines have also been instructed by the FAA to avoid autopilot landings at affected US airports during inclement weather conditions, regardless of the type of aircraft. He said Asiana would redirect its planes to nearby airports during those situations.

FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement that 5G “deployments can safely coexist with aviation technologies in the United States, as it does in other countries around the world.” However, she urged the FAA to conduct its safety checks “with both care and speed.”

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency said it was “not aware of any in-service incidents caused by 5G interference.”

AT&T and Verizon spent billions of dollars in a government auction last year for 5G spectrum, known as C-band.

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Gambrel reported from Dubai. Associated Press video journalist Teresa Crawford in Chicago and Associated Press writer Kim Tong-hyung in Seoul, South Korea, Yuri Kageyama in Tokyo, Ken Moritsugu in Beijing, David McHugh in Frankfurt, Germany, Frank Jordan in Berlin, Angela Charlton in Paris, Calvin Chan Isabel Debre in London and in Dubai contributed to this report.

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follow john gambrel on twitter www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP,

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