US airline group warns 5G deployment could delay cargo

By Damian Brett

Copyright: Shutterstock

US aviation groups are warning that the deployment of certain 5G mobile networks in the country could result in disruption to flights, including delays to air cargo shipments.

The Aviation 5G Coalition, an industry consortium representing airlines, manufacturers and associations, said that AT&T and Verizon will activate their C-Band 5G on January 5.

The group is not against the use of 5G but claimed that transmissions in the “C-Band” could interfere with radar altimeters when deployed close to airports.

In response, the FAA has issued an order prohibiting many flight operations related to poor weather landings when C-Band 5G networks are within a certain range of airports.

“Airlines operate safely in these conditions today but will be prohibited from operating in them if C-Band 5G is transmitted near the airport,” the group said.

Potential impacts include: delayed and cancelled passenger flights; delayed air cargo shipments; significant schedule disruptions; and inability for first responders, military, and law enforcement to fly helicopter missions.

In a joint statement, the members of the Aviation 5G Coalition said: “Time is running out before millions of air travelers and the shipping public experience significant disruptions such as flight delays, flight cancellations and backups to the already-stressed supply chain.

“We implore the Federal Communications Commission, Federal Aviation Association (FAA) and National Economic Council to continue meaningful discussions in good faith and to identify mitigations and reach a successful implementation plan that will ensure new 5G technologies can safely co-exist with the aviation industry.

“We strongly believe that by working together these groups can create a win-win situation for all stakeholders – the telecommunications industry, the aviation industry and most importantly the millions of customers who depend on our services every day across the country.”

The group has tabled its own set of counter proposals that it hopes will offset the concerns.

US mobile phone industry group CITA said that other countries deploy 5G signals in spectrum adjacent to aviation equipment without issue.

The group added that a “guard band” had been created for another layer of protection.

“Within the nearly 40 countries operating 5G in the C-Band today, there is not a single report of 5G causing harmful interference with air traffic of any kind,” said Meredith Attwell Baker, president and chief executive of CTIA.

“The FAA and the aviation industry appear to be looking to halt 5G deployment in the United States altogether, due in part to a report that we consider to be riddled with bad science and bad engineering.

The Aviation 5G Coalition group includes Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), Airlines for America (A4A), Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), Helicopter Association International (HAI), International Air Transport Association (IATA), National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), and the Regional Airline Association (RAA).

The Regional Air Cargo Carriers Association is also supporting the efforts.

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