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U.S. airline group warns 5G interference issues could linger for years

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -It will likely take “years” to permanently address airplane interference issues caused by the deployment of 5G wireless in the C-band, a group representing major U.S. passenger and cargo carriers will tell U.S. lawmakers on Thursday.

Nick Calio, who heads 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 held up as a cautionary tale of government communication and coordination gone awry,” his testimony, reviewed by Reuters and not yet made public, says.

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

Verizon (NYSE:VZ) and AT&T (NYSE:T) in January agreed to delay deploying some 5G wireless towers near airports after the aviation industry and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) warned 5G interference can impact sensitive airplane electronics like radio altimeters.

The FAA said last week it has cleared 20 altimeter models and approved 90% of the U.S. commercial fleet for landing in low-visibility approaches in areas with C-Band 5G. But 5G has impacted some flights in poor weather, especially some regional jets.

Aerospace Industries Association President Eric Fanning will tell lawmakers that progress is being made on the problem but it is not yet solved.

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

The hearing will also feature testimony from FAA Administrator Steve Dickson, wireless industry group CTIA CEO Meredith (NYSE:MDP) Attwell Baker and others.

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

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

Air Line Pilots Association President Joe DePete says the FCC’s support of the telecom industry has “not only put the public at risk, but it has also forced pilots to perform extensive workarounds to ensure the safety of 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 is clear that the reprieve may be temporary and dependent on the willingness of the telecoms to operate in a limited fashion in some areas.”

Source : Reuters/

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: 5G words and an airplane toy are placed on a printed U.S. flag in this illustration taken January 18, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

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