The chief executive officers of the world’s two biggest plane makers have requested the Biden administration to delay the rollout of new 5G wireless services citing aviation safety concerns, according to news agencies. In a joint letter to US transport secretary Pete Buttigieg, Boeing and Airbus CEOs urged postponing the planned deployment of C-Band spectrum 5G wireless, saying “5G interference could adversely affect the ability of aircraft to safely operate.” The duo warned that the deployment could have “an enormous negative impact on the aviation industry.”
“Airbus and Boeing have been working with other aviation industry stakeholders in the US to understand potential 5G interference with radio altimeters,” AFP quoted Airbus spokesperson as saying. Radio altimeters are used to measure a plane’s height above the ground.
The reported letter comes amid concerns raised by the aviation industry and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) about the potential interference of 5G with sensitive aircraft electronics. Earlier this month, the FAA issued two directives to provide a framework and to gather more information to avoid “potential effects on aviation safety equipment.”
The airworthiness directives, issued for all transport and commuter category aeroplanes and helicopters equipped with a radio altimeter, stated that radio altimeters cannot be relied upon to perform their intended function if they experience interference from wireless broadband operations in 5G C-Band.
The FAA said it was working closely with the US government’s communications agency and wireless companies and has “made progress toward safely implementing the 5G expansion.”
“We are confident with ongoing collaboration we will reach this shared goal,” it added.
The US wireless industry group CTIA has said that any further delay in launching 5G in the C-Band would harm economic growth, insisting that there is not a “single report of 5G causing harmful interference with air traffic of any kind.” CTIA chief executive Meredith Attwell Baker said in a blog post last month that “there appears to be no valid scientific or engineering basis to justify a delay, and there is overwhelming evidence to support rapid deployment.”
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