Airlines cancel select US flights following warning over 5G frequencies

Photo: © Bill Abbott (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Several international airlines have canceled parts of their schedules to the United States over the next few days due to the implications of the widespread 5G technology rollout starting Wednesday, January 19.

Air India, ANA All Nippon Airways, Emirates and Japan Airlines have already announced cancelations of flights operated by Boeing 777 aircraft for Wednesday, after Boeing reportedly sent out a notice to operators warning that the new technology can negatively impact a safe operation of Boeing 777 and 747-8 aircraft. However, aforementioned airlines are still operating flights with other aircraft types such as the Airbus A380 or Boeing 787. British Airways has also canceled or changed most of its planned Boeing 777 flights to the US for tomorrow.

Airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are cautious over the so-called C-Band frequency in the vicinity of approach paths at major airports. As a result, the FAA has released extensive NOTAMs (Notice to Air Missions) warning of possible interferences with some radio altimeters installed in commercial aircraft. “These safety restrictions could affect flight schedules and operations, affecting the aviation system“, the administration warns. However, the FAA has already cleared large portions of the commercial aircraft fleet for safe operation, including all major narrowbody and all Airbus widebody aircraft types.

In light of harsh criticism from airline CEOs warning of widespread flight cancelations over the coming weeks if the rollout continued as planned, two major providers of 5G networks AT&T and Verizon have on Tuesday, January 18, announced to cut back their planned rollout in a two-mile vicinity of airports.

Canada also introduced regulations in late-2021 on where the C-Band technology can be installed to not interrupt flight operations, while other countries have not yet set any restrictions on 5G installed near airports.