Airlines, cellphone companies reach temporary fix for 5G implementation safety issues for airports

Posted at 10:42 PM, Jan 18, 2022

DENVER — Airline companies continued their campaign against the rollout of their new 5G network on Tuesday after petitioning the White House to come up with a compromise.

Company leaders are speaking out in an 11th hour pitch to stop the rollout for fear the technology will interfere with airplane communication with the ground.

"The federal government’s current 5G rollout plan will have a devastating impact on aviation, negatively affecting an estimated 1.25 million United passengers, at least 15,000 flights and much-needed goods and tons of cargo traveling through more than 40 of the largest airports in the country annually," a statement from United Airlines says. "When deployed next to runways, the 5G signals could interfere with the key safety equipment that pilots rely on to take off and land in inclement weather."

Delta Air Lines also released a statement that the company "is 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."

The technological concern rests with the plane's altimeter. The new 5G network could potentially interfere with communications between that device and its corresponding transmitter on the ground.

"This is a big deal for Verizon, and they were scheduled to launch it this week," said Mike Dano, the editorial director for 5G mobile strategies at Light Reading. "The airline industry felt that they needed to take issues into their own hands and sound this alarm because they were concerned that flights would be delayed and potentially airplanes could crash."

A spokesperson for Verizon provided the following statement:

"As the nation’s leading wireless provider, we have voluntarily decided to limit our 5G network around airports. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and our nation’s airlines have not been able to fully resolve navigating 5G around airports, despite it being safe and fully operational in more than 40 other countries."